Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he was lifting the state's coronavirus restrictions at a March 2021 news conference.

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After Gov. Abbott’s Anti-Vaccine Mandate Mandate, Dallas Businesses Shrug

Abbott’s latest order seems intended to be more of a political gesture than a rule, and businesses are treating it that way.

Legal experts have said Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that “no entity” in Texas can require COVID-19 vaccinations is almost certain to be superseded by a federal rule that large employers and federal contractors mandate the jab. It is nevertheless a bit of a headache for businesses facing two competing governmental orders.

It’s also a reversal of Abbott’s previous position on whether employers could force employees to get vaccinated, and seems mostly intended as a political gesture. Large employers in Dallas are treating Abbott’s order as more of a suggestion, and not an especially good one.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines both shrugged at Abbott’s announcement, saying they will continue to require employees to get vaccinated.

The Dallas Regional Chamber, which has been behind a big business push to get people vaccinated, released a statement Tuesday that doesn’t mention Abbott by name, but says “a full economic recovery can only happen if more people get vaccinated so that our communities stay healthy, and businesses can stay open.”

“Businesses have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all employees in the workplace. The DRC supports the choice of each individual employer to do what is best for their company, whether that includes a vaccine mandate with reasonable exceptions, or giving the option of regular testing for those not vaccinated to ensure businesses can operate safely and effectively.”

In a statement, Texas Hospital Association President Ted Shaw said Abbott’s order was a bad look.

“This political action undercuts the central mission of hospitals, and patients and staff cannot be put at unnecessary risk. Hospitals have soldiered on for months at ground zero of this pandemic. As experts in healing and saving lives, hospitals must have the trust, respect and flexibility to mandate vaccines in their own facilities to protect the people of Texas.”

The White House didn’t much care for Abbott’s order either, but you probably could have guessed that. President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the move was little more than “politics.”

At least one of Abbott’s challengers in the Republican primary for his job was similarly unimpressed. In a tweet, Don Huffines called Abbott a “political windsock” who changed his tune on employer vaccine mandates to appeal to “conservative Republican voters.”

Maybe the only time Don Huffines and the Biden administration will agree on something.

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