Texas And Mississippi Are Dropping Their Mask Mandates, What Does That Mean For Travel?

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is lifting mask mandates in the state and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity starting Wednesday. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that capacity restrictions on businesses and mask requirements will be lifted next Wednesday.

The short answer is this means very little for travel including travel to, from, and in states where state and local mask and other requirements are lifting.

  • Airlines had their own mask requirements, before last month’s federal mandate. The federal rule isn’t going away any time soon and applies to airports and planes. It is in effect “until further notice…or until the Secretary of Health and Human Services rescinds the determination under section 319 of the Public Heatlh Services Act (42 USC 247d) that a public health emergency exists.”

    In other words, Covid-19 not only has to no longer be a ‘public health emergency’ but risk-averse government officials need to formally recognize that.

  • Hotel chains have their own mask requirements for public areas of their properties. Those aren’t state-dependent, and the lifting of state requirements do not bar private businesses from enforcing their own mask rules. Uber and Lyft, by the way, still require masking as well.

  • Airports are going to follow federal rules. Don’t expect any renegade airports. Their budgets are subject to significant FAA string-pulling. If a small Texas or Mississippi airport decided to go rogue on masking, Mayor Pete tells big airlines not to fly to small airports that don’t enforce masks for the safety of their crew. Killeen, Texas will never see another Envoy Air ERJ-145 again for the duration of the current administration.

Some restaurants and bars will be packed if you travel to Texas and Mississippi. Of course that was already true because enforcement of capacity restrictions was uneven at best. Some restaurants and bars will allow patrons to go unmasked while moving around away from their tables. But many will continue some elements of current practices.

Destinations that remove mask mandates first are most likely places that were largely open already. Of course everyone has to find their own comfort level, I’m happy visiting restaurants for instance with outdoor patios where I’m not packed in close to other patrons.

The Texas order allows counties to impose their own restrictions if Covid cases take up 15% of available hospital beds for a week consecutively. We’ll know soon enough whether this was too early, but Governor Abbott in Texas likely needed something to recover politically from the major power and water outages of last month and the Governor of Mississippi was able to jump in line lifting his state’s requirements before Texas’s were actually lifted.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Sheer idiocy. Well, Texas has the right to experience what a deregulated power grid looks like in a snowstorm, now they can experience what reopening too quickly is like in a pandemic instead of waiting a couple of months before finishing vaccinations. Cuz, FREEDUM, ‘Murica!

  2. I just booked multiple days stay a few weeks from now in the Penthouse Suite at the new Thomson in San Antonio. I booked flights and the room within one hour of reading the news. I want to, and will, go and spend money where I am welcome and there is no virtue-signaling. So sick of this mindless BS. The dam is breaking. Long live the broken dam.

  3. @VML – Texas and Florida never locked down like California and New York, and yet their infection and hospitalization rates were the same or lower. Of course since you’re smarter than those red state rubes, you know that already.

  4. It’s a balancing act. Impatience is understandable. We’ve given up most of the things we enjoy doing – things that make us human – for almost a year now, and the goalposts keep moving (if there ever were any goalposts). Today Biden said that everything will be normal in about a year. That’s not good enough and causes despair. It is another example of his unambitious goal-setting, like the 100 million jabs in his first 100 days. Scientists and medical authorities can’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. We will not get COVID down to zero, and people need hope for resuming their lives. As the “experts” continue to say no, wait, can’t, don’t, not now, restrict, warn and worry, without any indication of an exit plan, people give up. Set some targets: When 50% of the people are fully vaccinated, here’s what happens. When 70% are fully vaccinated, here’s what happens. Not only would this give people something to hope for and see daily progress toward, but it would be great for encouraging vaccination. I think Texas and Mississippi are moving too soon. I understand why they are doing so.

  5. sounds like they think the pandemic is over. better divert the stimulus and vaccines to other states that have need.

  6. Good news as they will not need anymore the new Covid relief funds with full employment and no need for medical care or classroom upgrades. The treasury can just redeposit their bill proceeds to help reduce the deficit.

    Once the old folks, undeserved and unhealthy are gone their oil economy will boom again.
    That used to be called euthanasia which the religious opposed. I guess as long as they have their freedom to do as they please- who cares about losing a few hundred thousand?

    We already had over one hundred 911s this year. Let’s go for a new record of one 911 every day.
    Americans kill more Americans than all of the wars or terrorists have. That is true American exceptionalism.

  7. We really are in “Failed State” territory here.

    Texas has had 44,100 deaths in a population of 21 million.

    Australia, with international flights to every major city, has had 909 deaths in a population of 25 million.

    Mississippi has had 6,724 deaths in a population of 2.97 million, in spite of having no international flights.

    New Zealand has had 26 deaths in a population of 5 million, and has 5 international airports.

    It’s incredible how dumb the people running Texas and Mississippi are. Their preventable death rates are both running at 3500% compared with places like Australia and New Zealand which:

    1. Have better-performing economies. (Australian quarterly growth is 3.1%).

    2. Have a higher percentage of their populations living in towns and cities, which should make them more vulnerable.

    3. Started the pandemic with more international airports.

    4. Have greater day-to-day freedom, with kids at school, full stadia and no masks required except during outbreaks.

    My heart sinks when I read news like this. How many more Americans are to be sacrificed to pointless death and disability when opening up prematurely before vaccination has actually wrecked the US economy?

    And this just ensures that higher-performing advanced countries will have to continue to ban Americans from entering, which is such a shame.

  8. New York State, but mostly the city locked down hard, because NYC has a massive population living very close together. NY also experiences freezing weather several months out of the year, which means more recirculated air in winter. Not sure a fair comparison to southern states where it’s far easier to be socially distant and can be safer by simply opening a window many days.

    Texas and Mississippi hopefully will achieve herd immunity prior to Air Conditioning seasons. If they don’t then science will not care how you voted.

  9. I owe people an apology for my underestimate of the excess death risk due to Covid in Texas and Mississippi compared with the larger, more internationally-networked populations of Australia and New Zealand.

    The excess risk of death from Covid in Texas (using Australia as a baseline) is 58,330%

    The excess risk of death from Covid in Mississippi (using New Zealand as a baseline) is 442,300%

    I realise that certain posters in this thread are bored of having to be responsible and disciplined to protect the lives of the vulnerable.

    But those are pretty catastrophic performances from Texas and Mississippi. And now they seem to want to make things worse!

    Other US states should probably close their borders to them, and force arrivals by air to apply for permission to enter, and then make them do 14 days supervised quarantine at a cost of $3,000 per person – just like we in Australia already do for any arrivals from Texas or Mississippi.

  10. Let’s compare the progressive paradises of California and New York to Australia and New Zealand….failed states on steroids.

  11. GREAT news for Texas and Mississippi!
    Anyone who doesn’t like it or disagrees is free to run to be those states governors; they’re also free to never visit either of those American states, they’re not welcome anyway.
    Personally, I commend them and their spirit of FREEDOM!

  12. It can really be seen where people get their info! Oh, well, write off Texas for going to fast, again! Summer of 2020, ready to repeat!

  13. New Zealand is in denial and in fear.
    To every single Kiwi: YOU WILL GET THIS ENDEMIC VIRUS.
    You WILL be exposed to it. It will find its way into your body once you leave your hermetically sealed cocoon. Vaccinated or not, it will find you. Every one of you. It’s just a matter of time.

    Imagine a vaccine so safe you have to be threatened to take it, for a disease so deadly you have to be tested to know you have it.

  14. Not sure what the problem is. If you live in Texas and think you’re still at risk, feel free to wear your mask. They can’t force you to not wear one. Feel free to wear a mask for the rest of your life. And if masks really work, why should you care about those who don’t wear one? It’s their choice to take the risk. Smoking is potentially far more lethal to most than this virus, but we don’t have a cow when an
    adult lights up. It’s their choice. And their only hurting themselves. Because masks work. And as you’re wearing your magic mask, you’ll be fine. Right? lol

  15. Brady nailed it: Get your damned vaccine and then why care if I don’t wear a mask?
    It has everything to do with the left’s desire to rule all aspects of everyone’s lives. They already try to control what everyone is allowed to say, even though words harm no one, so when they go full Karen, it’s a natural extension of their desire to censor all opposing views.

  16. Nothing can stop the intolerance of the left, not reason, not science and not logic.

  17. @Billy Bob
    These are some of the most effective vaccines in history – and vaccination eliminated horrors like smallpox.

    But even these vaccines are not 100% effective. Until there is herd immunity, selfish and immoral idiots who persist in travelling will spread the virus and kill people.

    You laugh at Australians and New Zealanders which is your right. We are just delighted to keep people like you out, and if there were significant numbers of people like you in our country we would have them interned before their irresponsibility could kill people.

    We are not smug, and we wish there was no pandemic, but we won’t go into denial about something which has killed 200 times as many of our American friends as 9/11 did.

    If Texas and Mississippi want to play Russian Roulette, that is their problem. But nobody from there should be permitted to take their lethal germs around the country or the world.

  18. I don’t live in Texas, but… good move on them.

    I think masks and distancing should still be recommended for the time being, but it should not come as a diktat.

  19. @DavidF

    Please stop your paranoid driveling about Australia, New Zealand, or other islands – you can’t compare those crappy little duck-pond nations to diverse large-population regions like North America or Europe, where population and geographies are highly interconnected, and the pandemic already is established inside. The right path going forward from that are to accelerate vaccine availability, and to recommend common-sense measures in the interim, including mask-wearing, distancing, and remote working where possible. But mot to place people in virtual prisons.

    If you wish to do it differently in your former penal colony country, go right ahead – I’m not interested to go there anyway. Or you could join forces with China. But don’t argue for other countries to impose undue limitations to fundamental freedoms of business and individual movement.

  20. Love how Muricans believe that freedom doesn’t come with responsibilities. Guess that what makes them freedumbs

  21. Btw could anyone explain why free market loving, big guvmint hating Texans now want relief from the central govt and want breaks on their free market driven post blackout electricity bills?
    That Lone Star sho runs for cover when it done see trouble coming it’s way.
    Socialist Texans!!!!!

  22. “Let’s see what Australia thinks before we make a decision.”

    – Nobody in the history of mankind.

  23. @DavidF – “Other US states should probably close their borders to them, and force arrivals by air to apply for permission to enter, and then make them do 14 days supervised quarantine at a cost of $3,000 per person – just like we in Australia already do for any arrivals from Texas or Mississippi.”

    For any US state to try to close their borders and/or force people to get permission to enter would be unconstitutional. And the only state that has been able to make quarantine work is Hawaii, and the only reason they can make that work is because they’re islands that are geographically separated from the rest of the country. Every other state that has had quarantine measures hasn’t really been able to enforce them effectively – they’re mostly for show. And doesn’t Australia make just about everyone quarantine, not just TX & MS?

    “And this just ensures that higher-performing advanced countries will have to continue to ban Americans from entering, which is such a shame.”

    Countries will likely open to each other when enough of their people have been vaccinated, probably requiring the traveler to provide proof of vaccination. The decisions by TX & MS will have little, if any, impact on that. And given the tone of your comments, I find it difficult to believe you really think that would be a shame.

  24. It’s fascinating reading the unhinged comments from the uninformed sheep who have bought this hoax. It makes you wonder if they will ever figure it out.

    Oh, and its not a vaccine.

  25. @Brian L
    You think I’m sneering at the US? I think the opposite: I think that American lives are as precious as Australian ones, and I’m baffled to see how cheaply they are discarded by their fellow Americans in a pandemic in the name of “freedom”.

    The same people who virulently oppose abortion seem indifferent to half a million needless deaths.

    @Marco – US mainland geography is very similar to Australia. And you, like us, are a flight away from all your major markets except for Canada’s main cities.

    We share similar geography, similar climate and a similar lifestyle and culture.

    But a century ago we learned from the Americans how you get through a pandemic. You disconnect all your travel links until everyone is vaccinated, and you protect your economy and your lifestyle by doing so, and by eliminating every case.

    Melbourne is a city as large as Chicago and like the whole of the US lost control of the pandemic. But we did what our American friends taught us a century ago, and it worked – the virus was eradicated.

    Funnily enough, it is Australia and New Zealand which are following the wise advice of the American experts. And it is modern Americans who aren’t even bothering to do so, and who are impulsively and recklessly taking unnecessary risks.

    The vaccines are already arriving. Now is the time to keep our discipline and to keep going with masks and working from home and closed schools until everyone is vaccinated.

    Every death is preventable. Sydney hasn’t had a Covid death since mid-September – and it is a major global city.

    @Ryan ignores that Texas and Mississippi are already a worldwide laughing stock – as unfortunately is the whole country – for their failure to protect their people from this pandemic. He instead laughs at the success of places which have functioning economies and virtually no Covid deaths.

    Quite why Texas and Mississippi would want to take even more risks just baffles me. Do they have no sense that the rest of the world views them with derision?

  26. Pretty sure texas and florida want to keep the pandemic going. They are doing everything they can to increase spread and increase the chances of variants that avoid vaccines being created. We have three frickin vaccines right now and can see the end of this pandemic coming but these morons are going to risk it all. Of course it is no shock that the governor from texas got the vaccine in December, so what does he care if people die. He has the vaccine and I bet his family and friends all got it too. What a disgrace.

  27. @DavidF – “I think that American lives are as precious as Australian ones, and I’m baffled to see how cheaply they are discarded by their fellow Americans in a pandemic in the name of “freedom”.”

    You’re baffled by the fact that others may not value things the same way you do? Really? Many Americans (certainly not all, but a lot of them) value freedom (however they define it) just as much as their lives, if not MORE so. For many Americans the restrictions on their freedoms (of movement, association, religion, etc) and their ability to make a living (shutting down businesses) smack of dictatorship. I don’t want to live in a country where the government can force those kinds of restrictions on me indefinitely when I have committed no crime. And don’t tell me they’re temporary – we’ve been putting up with this crap for almost a year with no end date. Some bureaucrat or talking head saying the end is close does not count as an end date.

    “Ryan ignores that Texas and Mississippi are already a worldwide laughing stock – as unfortunately is the whole country – for their failure to protect their people from this pandemic. He instead laughs at the success of places which have functioning economies and virtually no Covid deaths.”

    That doesn’t mean he’s wrong. There’s virtually no one in a position of power in the US (on any level of government, federal, state, or local) who thinks that what Australia and New Zealand has done is possible here. Most of them realize that the methods employed in those countries are not permitted by law here.

    “Quite why Texas and Mississippi would want to take even more risks just baffles me. Do they have no sense that the rest of the world views them with derision?”

    If they do, they don’t care. Why should they? Does anyone in Australia care that many people in America think your measures equate to tyranny? If they do, they shouldn’t. And as noted above,

  28. I like @paul ‘s comment the best. Take away their covid funds and apply them to the deficit. Like trillions we have to print will not have an impact on the budget.

  29. @David F you may be laughing at TX & MS along with the rest of the world. I haven’t seen it in my travels, but whatever. However their citizens make up an outsized proportion of the US military compared to other states.

    Will our allies refuse protection from all those stupid Americans? Doubt it. What if they aren’t wearing their mask properly when they risk their lives to defend your right as an independent nation to have whatever Covid restrictions you want?

    Don’t get me wrong, Aussies are plenty tough. But it’s our rednecks that keep the world safe. Even the ones who don’t like masks. Many Americans do value freedom more than their lives. Be thankful for that since they also are willing to die to protect your freedom.

  30. Two quick items…

    1. Not implying that it’s only redneck Americans serving. Obviously. But if the poop hits the fan I certainly don’t mind having one covering my back. Mask or not.

    2. Spent the last 5 weeks in Dubai with a quick jaunt to the Maldives. Very few Americans, as usual. Mostly Brits, Russians & Germans. Guess what? Mask compliance is about equal to what I’ve witnessed in rural America. Sorry, this is not an American issue. It only seems that way.

  31. My goodness, the comments from some folks. Voluntary efforts failed. We already tried appealing to our shared responsibility to care for our neighbors — those who may be immunocompromised, elderly, or simply left holding the short end of death statistics. It saddens me tremendously to see so many people in some of the most purportedly Christian parts of the country reject this responsibility in favor of selfishness. I simply don’t know what more to say. Mask-up and get vaccinated; this isn’t over yet.

  32. @DavidF

    “Every death is preventable.”

    That says it all about how delusional you are. The “just one life” mentality certainly worked well for the good Governor Cuomo. Kindly wear a pin identifying yourself an authoritarian statist so others know to join you or steer clear accordingly.

  33. @Tim – You realize that the average snowfall in Texas is 1/10 of an inch, right? They should’ve been better prepared, but to expect them to handle a massive snowstorm like this as well as, say, New York or Boston is ludicrous.

    And for everyone else whining about Texas an Mississippi easing restrictions, a simple Google search would tell you that other states and localities are doing the same.

  34. Hope the spacing works:
    Metric California Texas
    New cases per 100,000 16.8 26.8
    Percent vaccinated with at least one dose 16.7% 13.4%
    Test positivity rate 2.3% 13.5%
    Case rates increasing or decreasing? Decreasing Increasing
    ICU occupancy 78% 88%

  35. I can’t wait until 4 years from now ! The policies and ideaolgy from the left are going to bring America to its economic knees. KUDOS to TX and MS for giving its citizens choices. With Gavin facing a recall petition and Cuomo on the hot seat for sexual harassment maybe there is still hope for CA and NY.

  36. For me this is very welcome news to open business fully and end the ridiculous mask mandate. In rural areas and smaller cities of Texas the mask mandate has largely been ignored anyway. Probably at most a third to half the population wear a mask on a regular basis. Most of the chain stores have their own mask requirements but I predict competition will take care of that situation in short order. A large Texas based supermarket chain has already announced their employees will continue to wear mask but customers will not be asked to do so. Walmart in my community never enforced their corporate rule and again only half or less of their customers wore mask. The national chains are not going to lose business to independent and regional based stores over this issue so they will modify their policy accordingly or at least not enforce it. If a person is fearful they can still wear a mask, social distance, stay at home, or venture out during slow business hours. The rest of us can go about our business unfettered. My gripe is all of the karens succeeded in getting a Federal mandate which will be in place long after there is any significant risk, possibly a year or two more. I do love that the actions of Texas, Florida, Wyoming, South Dakota, and other sensible states drives liberals nuts. Most amusing to read the rants on blogs and social media.

  37. I would also add concerning restaurants and hotels in Texas. I have stayed at 12 different hotels, all being part of major national chains, in various states including Texas since Covid started. My experience is 0 of the 12 have enforced a mask rule for customers. It is very hit and miss on restaurants as well. Very few will ask someone to put on a mask. Competition will eliminate the few who were enforcing. Time to move on and stop the damage being done to overall mental health and the economy, and children missing a year + of education. Too bad competition cannot solve the airline mandate but the nanny state Feds have control there.

  38. @Brady and @Billy Bob a full year later still don’t get the basics that masks are about protecting others and not yourself. Must have hit your heads hard trying to storm the Capital.

  39. Yee haw, tell you whut, I aint lettin’ no gosh-durn fake virus get between me and my freedom, God Bless Amerikkka!

  40. The casket companies anticipate a high increase in revenue in Texas and mississippi

  41. @ DavidF. If you beat the numbers long enough, they will submit to your will.
    Texas has merely made the decision to wear a mask at all times a decision for individuals, not government. The “if YOU are concerned, don’t go” option is still in effect.

  42. Please let Texas and Mississippi secede. They’ve already proven how well they can manage themselves.

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