In a move against the Biden administration's mandate that most larger employers ask employees to be vaccinated or submit to a COVID-19 testing regimen, Abbot announced that Texans should be permitted to "opt-out of being forced to take a vaccine for reasons of conscience or medical reasons."
"No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19," the order announced. "I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition."
Most federal mandates in place or considered do allow certain religious and medical exemptions, though antibodies from prior COVID-19 infections are not among them.
Abbott announced that proof mandates are detrimental to the state's economic recovery and that President Joe Biden's mandate amounts to "federal overreach" and "bullying" that would generate "workforce disruptions that threaten Texas's continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster."
Abbott further specified that the executive order supersedes any local ordinances.
The move sets up Mr. Abbott for a clash with Joe Biden, who last month called on all employers with over 100 employees to mandate vaccines for workers or test weekly for the virus.
He further asked all federal workers and contractors to get a vaccine.
"We're in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while," Biden announced, as the delta variant of the coronavirus has caused deaths to rise across the nation. But, he continued: "We can and we will turn the tide on Covid-19."
Many millions of Americans have still not got a jab, often living in states dominated by Republicans.
Texas stands 29 out of 50 when the individual states are ranked by the percentage of their population that has taken a vaccine. Currently, only 52 percent have received two vaccine shots, as recommended by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
Yet, it is 9 out of 50 - only one spot behind Florida, which is further Republican-controlled - when it comes to the largest number of deaths from the virus.