Contact 2: COVID restrictions loosening in some states but not airports


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – It’s said everything is bigger in Texas. And this week, the Lone Star State went big on its rollback of coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the state’s mask mandate will soon be a thing of the past and businesses will be allowed to fully reopen with no restrictions, despite the CDC urging states to keep restrictions in place.

“Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end.” Abbott said.

President Joe Biden scrutinized Abbott’s decision and similar choices from leaders in states like Louisiana on Wednesday.

“The last thing, the last thing we need, is the Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters,” Biden said.

And keeping that mask on in airports and planes still matters to the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokesperson tells FOX 2, “The FAA is committed to ensuring that commercial passengers comply with President Biden’s facemask mandate throughout their journey from curb-to-curb. We enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights or fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of FAA regulations.”

Officials want people traveling to or through airports, even in cities with relaxed restrictions, to know they’re required to mask up before entering the airport. We learned the airlines are helping the order from the CDC.

In a statement, American Airlines said its policy requiring face coverings for all passengers and team members has not changed. American team members, including those working in Texas, will continue to be required to wear a face covering at all times while at work.

If travelers are concerned about passing through an airport in a state that’s loosened restrictions, airlines said they’ll work with passengers to find a solution.

Southwest Airlines said in a statement it allows customers the most flexibility to change flights without paying a change fee, though a fare difference might apply.

“Customers can always reach out to our Customer Relations Teams to work through any issues with their travel plans,” said a Southwest spokesperson.

A United Airlines rep told us this: “The same flexibility that we’ve offered throughout the pandemic is available to United customers and that includes no change fees… Because of the uncertainty around future travel, we’ve adjusted our policies to make it easier for customers to change or cancel their flights.”

It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re properly prepared for your time. We’ve got a checklist to make it easier for you.

Guidance for Air Travelers:

A new web portal where airline passengers can obtain updated information on how to Fly Healthy and walks you through every step of the process: plan your travel; at the airport; aboard the aircraft; arrival at your destination, and returning home.

Guidance to Airlines and Airports: Runway to Recovery

This document provides the U.S. Government’s guidance to airports and airlines for implementing measures to mitigate the public health risks associated with COVID-19, prepare for an increase in travel volume, and ensure that aviation safety and security are not compromised.

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