‘Texas is open 100%’: Governor says state will be latest to ban vaccine requirements, passports

Mid-South

AUSTIN, TX – MAY 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and bars may now begin to fully or partially reopen their facilities as outlined by regulations listed on the Open Texas website. (Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the state is now “100%” reopened and he plans to sign a law prohibiting businesses from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Abbott has pushed for opening businesses as soon as possible throughout the pandemic and tweeted Monday he would sign legislation to prevent them from imposing their own vaccine-related restrictions.

“I’m signing a law today that prohibits any business operating in Texas from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information,” Abbott wrote. “Texas is open 100% without any restrictions or limitations or requirements.”

Abbott previously issued an executive order banning government agencies or those who receive funding from the state from using vaccine passports. He said back in April that he also wouldn’t allow government-mandated proof of vaccination cards in order to travel, according to KXAN.

A ban on vaccine passports in Florida is at the heart of a dispute between the state and cruise lines which require passengers to provide vaccine information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules mandate 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers must be fully vaccinated in order for them to operate.

Cruise lines bring billions of dollars into host states including Texas, but say they can’t conduct business unless they follow the CDC guidelines, putting them at odds with bans.

Several cities around the country are rolling out digital vaccine passports that allow fully vaccinated people to travel, attend concerts, and even go maskless. But some lawmakers say these passports are a violation of personal liberty.

At state Capitols across the country, lawmakers, generally Republican, are advancing legislation to ban COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses and schools.

The Biden administration said previously it does not intend to issue a vaccine passport mandate and it will not build a national vaccination app, leaving it to the private sector to create mobile digital passports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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