After citizen outrage, two businesses backed down from requiring customers to show proof of a COVID–19 vaccination when a state agency threatened to enforce state law. Texans will have to remain vigilant of other businesses violating the state’s prohibition on these vaccine passports.

On Monday, local media reported that Austin restaurants Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon and Launderette are requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination (“at least one shot”) to dine indoors. Three days later, these restaurants dropped the requirement after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission threatened to strip them of their business licenses in accordance with recently passed state law.

“The reversal of this policy is proof that Texans can and will hold our state accountable in order to protect our rights,” Jackie Schlegel of Texans for Vaccine Choice told Texas Scorecard. “While the job is far from over, we celebrate this one small victory in the war for our individual medical freedoms!”

Citizens expressed outrage at reports that these businesses were requiring proof of a COVID–19 vaccination. Both State Sens. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) and Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) said they were in violation of Senate Bill 968, prohibiting COVID–19 vaccine passports, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law earlier this year.

Schlegel, as well as Hall, called for Texans to report businesses requiring proof of COVID–19 vaccination to the state agency regulating them. In the case of Fresa’s and Launderette, that is the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

After this conflict emerged, the TABC was told to do its job. Kolkhorst’s chief of staff, Chris Steinbach, told Texas Scorecard the senator “reached out directly to state agencies to educate them of their duty to ensure all state license and permit holders are complying with the ban on vaccine passports in the State of Texas.”

The TABC stated they had received complaints about Launderette’s vaccine requirement. They have also posted a notification on their website stating, “State law now prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. The TABC may require compliance with this law as a condition of holding a license, permit, certificate, or other authorization.”

Despite this victory, citizens will have to continue to remain vigilant, as there are reports of more businesses adopting policies similar to that of the two Austin restaurants. “I saw this morning on TV that Oak and Lotus Yoga Studio was requiring vaccine cards as well,” commented Kelly Gamblin.

“Texans are fed up with the divisive tactics used to create two classes of citizens,” Schlegel stated. “We all want to get back to life as normal, but not at the expense of our individual sovereignty.”

As Schlegel stated previously, citizens may file formal complaints of violations of SB 968, Section 14, to the relevant state agency. For restaurants, that would be the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.