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Texas companies have criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to prevent companies from requiring vaccines as the country’s partisan fight for mandates escalates.

Abbott issued an executive order on Monday saying “no entity in Texas can demand receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine” and urged state lawmakers to pass legislation banning warrants.

Bob Harvey, head of the Greater Houston Partnership, a group of companies whose members include ExxonMobil, Citigroup, Chevron and Accenture, said Tuesday that “the Governor’s Executive Order does not support the ability and duty of Texas businesses to create a safe workplace ”.

He said companies should “continue to promote the importance of vaccinations” as long as the executive decree is in place, adding that the decree is likely to be tested in the courts.

“The Covid-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said of his order.

The ordinance puts Texas at odds with the Biden administration, which issued its own executive order last month requiring all businesses across the country with more than 100 employees to require vaccines among their employees.

The White House criticized the move, saying on Tuesday that Abbott “put politics before health.”

The dueling orders have confused the business community, which must now decide whether it will violate state or federal guidelines while the warrants are debated in court.

Texas-based carriers American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which see vaccines as essential to getting Americans back on flights, said Tuesday afternoon they would leave their vaccination warrants in place, defying the governor’s executive order. They both said they expected the federal government’s mandate to take precedence over the state’s.

Vaccination mandates have also been adopted by several actors in the state’s vital energy sector. Some of the state’s largest oil and gas producers and refiners, including Chevron and Pioneer Natural Resources, are requiring their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

This post has been updated to include announcements from American Airlines and Southwest Airlines that they will leave their vaccination warrants in place.


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