Texas will not shut down again, the state Capitol will reopen, and coronavirus vaccines will never be required in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Thursday morning.
At a press conference held outside a UPS facility in Austin, Abbott gave an update on the state’s distribution of vaccines, which includes prioritizing certain demographics—such as frontline healthcare workers, nursing homes, and prisons.
“We are swiftly distributing these vaccines to healthcare workers across the state and will continue to ensure that Texans on the frontlines have access to these life-saving immunizations,” said Abbott.
But the governor also made it clear that taking such vaccines would never be a requirement in Texas.
“We always want to make clear that vaccines are transformational, but there are some people who do not want them. And so, vaccines in the state of Texas are voluntary, never required.”
Abbott also said he strongly opposed another set of lockdowns, even as small businesses across the state are grappling with restrictions and mandates.
“There has been no governmental leader anywhere who has been able to figure out how COVID works,” said Abbott, pointing to California, which recently reimplemented massive shutdowns similar to the ones Abbott himself put in place in March.
“It’s time to put behind us shutdowns. No more shutdowns. We need to focus on opening up businesses,” said Abbott.
Just earlier this month, however, an executive order issued by Abbott reduced most businesses’ capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent in a North Texas region that contains over a quarter of the state’s population. Bars in the area were closed entirely.
When it comes to reopening the state’s Capitol—which has been closed to the public since March—Abbott says the building will be reopened, though he stopped short of specifics.
“I do think the Capitol should be reopened, and the Capitol will be reopened,” Abbott said, in response to a question from Texas Scorecard.
Abbott’s statement comes after leaders in the Republican Party of Texas passed a resolution demanding the Capitol reopen without restriction for the upcoming legislative session.
A decision on reopening the building will ultimately be made by the State Preservation Board, of which Abbott is a governing member.
The 87th legislative session will begin on January 12, 2021.