Nursing homes and elder care facilities are also exempt from the order

Source: Jack Hadfield | National File

Texas Governor Greg Abbott seemingly “banned” vaccine passports with an executive order today, yet private businesses can still require whatever documentation they choose.

Governor Abbott announced the executive order on Tuesday, noting that 13 million doses of the COVID vaccine have already been given in Texas, claiming that a “return to normalcy” was permitted via taking the vaccine. Abbott noted that the vaccines are meant to be “voluntary, and never forced,” and that “government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and require private health information just to go about their daily lives.”

“We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health, and we will do so without treading on Texans’s personal freedoms,” Abbott said in a video released along with the executive order.

Early media reports claimed that Abbott has therefore “banned” vaccine passports, but this couldn’t be further from the case. Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis actually banned vaccine passports, whereby Florida government agencies are prevented from issuing passports, and “businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” with businesses being made to comply with this order.

In contrast, Abbott’s order merely prevents government-mandated vaccine passports, with the vast majority of private businesses remaining unaffected. Only private businesses that received government money are prevented from requiring vaccine passports, meaning it would be almost impossible for the average citizen to know if a business that requires a vaccine passport is in compliance with the executive order or not. Nursing homes and elder care facilities are exempt regardless of their public or private status.

National File reported that the Biden administration’s plan for vaccine passports will also be conducted almost primarily through the private sector. In short, the government and doctors will give private health information to a private company, acting as a third party, who will then allow this information to be shared via an app or printed out slip of paper. It is also therefore unclear whether such a vaccine passport program would be affected by Abbott’s order.

Abbott has come under fire from conservatives recently for various decisions, including falsely labelling free speech social media platform Gab as “anti-semitic,”  and allowing Chinese Communists to profit from his green energy policies.