Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed into law a bill to ban government entities and private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for service or entry amid the CCP virus pandemic.
“Texas is open 100 percent, and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” the Republican governor announced in a video post on Twitter.
The Lone Star state in March ended its statewide mask mandate and allowed all businesses to open at full capacity after having implemented mandates and restrictions due to the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Abbott announced on Monday with the signing of the legislation that “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.”
The new law SB 968 covers many aspects of the public health disaster and public health emergency preparedness and response. It was approved unanimously in April and was passed by a vote of 146-2 by the state House in May.
Effective immediately, Texas businesses “may not require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer ’s COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery on entry to, to gain access to, or to receive service from the business,” the legislation states. State agencies in charge of different business sectors can require that businesses comply with the new law as a condition to be authorized to conduct business in Texas.
Furthermore, businesses that don’t comply with the law will not be able to enter any state contracts and will be ineligible to receive a grant.
Businesses can still implement their own COVID-19 infection control protocols “in accordance with state and federal law to protect public health.”
Abbott had signed an executive order in April that banned government entities from requiring vaccine passports as a condition to receive services or gain entry to premises. The order included any private businesses that receive public funding. But the executive order did not apply to entirely private businesses, which the new law covers with regard to vaccine passports.
The Carnival Cruise Line said in its latest announcement on Monday that “current CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect.” Therefore, it said it would be restarting its operations for vaccinated passengers with its cruise ship leaving from Texas’s Port of Galveston on July 3.
The cruise liner’s decision is in accordance with federal guidelines published by the CDC, which recently stipulated that if cruise liners are to obtain a conditional sailing certificate for simulated (“trial”) voyages amid the CCP virus pandemic, their volunteer passengers must have proof of being fully vaccinated, or written documentation that the passenger has no medical conditions to be at high risk for severe COVID-19 as defined by the CDC’s guidelines.
It is unclear as of Monday how the new law will affect the cruise liner’s plans.
“We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information,” Carnival spokesperson Vance Gulliksen told the Houston Chronicle in an email. “The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing COVID protocols in accordance with federal law, which is consistent with our plans to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s guidelines.”