Politics & Policy

Texas Governor Abbott Signs Bill Banning Vaccine Passports

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, May 4, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Republican Texas governor Greg Abbott signed legislation Monday that prohibits businesses and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination in the state.

“Texas is open 100 percent and we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Abbott said in a Twitter video.

“No business or government entity can require a person to provide a vaccine passport or any other vaccine information as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place,” he continued.

Businesses that violate the law can be denied state contracts or lose state-issued licenses or operating permits, the Texas Tribune reported. An individual that disobeys the ban may be disqualified from contracting with the state and state agencies that have regulatory power over certain businesses may withhold a license or permit if the law is ignored.

Abbott’s decision comes as many Republican-dominated legislatures have enacted similar legislation outlawing vaccine passports in commercial activity within their states, citing medical privacy and individual liberty concerns. Some Republican governors have taken executive action to preemptively remove the vaccine passport off the table. For instance, Georgia governor Brian Kemp recently signed an executive order Tuesday banning the state government from requiring COVID vaccine passports or assisting private establishments that seek to mandate them.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently signed legislation codifying an earlier executive order forbidding businesses from asking patrons to present a vaccination card for admission, penalizing non-compliance with a $5,000 fine for each customer involved.

In other Democratic states, such as New York, the vaccine passport has been implemented on a small scale, with residents having the option to download the Excelsior Pass on their mobile devices to indicate their vaccination status, which a variety of venues and businesses can scan to verify.

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