By Raven Clabough
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced a ban on government-mandated vaccine passports on Tuesday morning, making Texas the second state to prohibit controversial passports such as the Excelsior Pass implemented in New York.
Abbott issued an executive order on Monday banning any legislation that would require Texans to show proof of vaccines before receiving a product or service, the Daily Wire reports, and any business or entity that requires vaccine documentation will be prohibited from receiving state funds.
“Texans shouldn’t be required to show proof of vaccination & reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” Abbott said in video announcement posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning. “I issued an Executive Order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. Don’t tread on our personal freedoms.”
Abbott’s order exempts only nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
In February, New York became the first state to implement a voluntary (for now) COVID-19 vaccine passport, which will be used at venues across the state.
“As they would with an airline boarding pass, people will be able to prove their health status with a digital QR code — or ‘quick response’ machine-readable label,” USA Today reported.
Thus far, no other states have followed suit, and the Biden administration’s sidestep of the issue may discourage states from implementing a similar measure, particularly as backlash continues to grow.
“The government is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport nor a place to hold the data of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing, and we’ll do what’s important to us,” Biden’s senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 response team said at a press briefing.
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was the first to sign a ban against vaccine passports, calling them a privacy violation. Under the order, Florida businesses are prohibited from requiring patrons to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination to enter a business or be served, the Associated Press reported last week.
“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society,” DeSantis said. “You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game, a theme park? No. So we’re not supportive of that.”
“We always said we wanted to provide it for all but mandate it for none,” he continued. “And that was something that, while it was advised to take particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it.”
Governor Abbott offered similar sentiments, touting the availability of the vaccine but emphasizing it was voluntary and not required.
“Every day, Texans return to normalcy as more people get the COVID vaccine. In fact, this week, Texas will surpass 13 million doses administered,” Abbott said in a Tuesday video announcement. “Those shots help slow the spread of COVID, reduce hospitalizations, and reduce fatalities.”
“But, as I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced. Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” the governor continued. “That is why I issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
Other Republican governors have spoken out against vaccine passports, as well, according to Western Journal.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union that he does not believe the passports are “necessary” or “a good thing to do in America.”
“At some point, we have to let Americans make the decision that they think is best for them and their family,” Reeves said.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson tweeted on Monday that he had “no intention of implementing” a vaccine passport in his state. The Missouri legislature has also taken steps to protect citizens from vaccine passports, with the state’s Senate passing an amendment to Senate Bill 46, a transportation bill, that would ban the passports.
“No entity in this state shall require documentation of an individual having received a vaccination against any disease in order for the individual to access transportation systems or services,” the amendment reads, according to Fox 4 KC.
Even Democratic governors have publicly rejected the notion of a vaccine passport.
“I have no interest in vaccine passports,” Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said on Monday. “We will not be issuing those under my authority.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also raised privacy concerns over the requirements for vaccine passports, Fox News reports.