The MidSouthCon committee announced today that guests of honor David Mack and Amanda Makepeace, and toastmaster Maggie Thompson, will not be attending the convention. Mack says his decision is due to the convention’s state-imposed Covid policy. Makepeace and Thompson have not specifically commented in social media about their reasons.
MidSouthCon will take place in Memphis, Tennessee from March 25-27. Their Covid-19 Policy requires masks, however, Tennessee state law prohibits them from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests.
Our attendee’s health and safety is our priority. With that, we are following the guidance of our venue and our local, state, and federal authorities.
1. Masks – per our venue, masks are required for all visitors/guests in all public space, which is any non-guest-room space. All convention attendees will be expected to adhere to this requirement.
2. Vaccinations – per a recent state law passed by our Tennessee legislature, government entities and private businesses in Tennessee are prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests to employees, patrons, and visitors…
David Mack explained why he withdrew as a GoH on his blog: “I’ve canceled my appearance at MidSouthCon”:
It is with deep regret that I have canceled my appearance as the Author Guest of Honor for this year’s MidSouthCon, because of the impossibility of verifying the vaccination/negative test status of attendees, staff, guests, and volunteers as a condition of attendance.
This would have been my very first time as an Author Guest of Honor at any con, and this invitation meant a great deal to me. However, protecting my health and that of my family against unnecessary risks during a pandemic, especially in the face of an extremely contagious COVID variant such as omicron, must take a higher priority.
I will be reimbursing MidSouthCon for any and all out-of-pocket costs they have incurred on my behalf.
At the time MidSouthCon and I made our plans, we had no idea the pandemic was coming. We certainly could not have known in 2019 that the Tennessee state government would pass a law that actually makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.
That fact is the key difference between this cancellation and the one I announced last week regarding my planned appearance at Farpoint Convention. The state of Maryland has no law at this time that prevents events and venues from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and/or service. The state of Tennessee, unfortunately, does. Whereas Farpoint could have chosen to apply a stronger standard for the protection of its guests, et al., but chose not to, the concom of MidSouthCon had no such option….
Artist Amanda Makepeace said in a tweet today, “I stressed myself out this weekend over a decision I needed to make. But once I accepted what was in my heart all that worry went away. Staying true to yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.” The timing suggests a connection without limiting other possibilities.
Having had to pull out of two conventions, David Mack took a look ahead to address whether Covid policies would affect his participation in any other. His only upcoming convention appearance is Shore Leave, happening in Hunt Valley, Maryland from July 15–17. Shore Leave has a posted COVID-19 policy that will require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry/service to the convention’s designated areas and functions. Mack says, “As long as that policy remains in effect, I will look forward to attending Shore Leave this summer.”
He also has added a statement to his website’s Contact page that he “will not participate in person at any event held in a state…that legally bars venues and events from requesting proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and service.” Ballotopedia shows that currently includes the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.