Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, on Thursday signed an executive order prohibiting cities and other government entities in the state from enacting vaccine requirements or mask mandates to protect against the coronavirus, even as the virus's more contagious delta variant drives another surge in covid-19 cases in Texas.
Abbott's order applies to any government entities receiving state funds, including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities and government officials. He also declared that there be "no covid-19-related operating limits for any business or other establishment" in the state in order to "ensure the ability of Texans to preserve livelihoods while protecting lives."
The order, Abbott said in a statement, was to "provide clarity and uniformity" in the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The governor claimed that Texans had "mastered the safe practices" that help prevent and avoid the spread of covid-19.
"The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates," Abbott stated. "Texans... have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities."
The governor added that vaccines remain the most effective defense against the virus but would never be forced in the state.