Disney World stated this week that its masking regulations would change at the end of the month. The new Disney mask policy, which takes effect on July 30, requires all guests ages two and up to wear masks in most parts of the Florida theme park, as well as Disneyland in California.
According to Disney, the new masking rules apply to all attendees “regardless of immunization status.” Guests will be required to wear masks when indoors and on public transit (including Disney buses, monorails, and the Disney Skyliner). “This includes at entry as well as throughout all attractions,” Disney explains. The only places where face masks will be required are in outdoor communal spaces.
The Disney mask policy adjustment represents a reversal of the park’s recent progressively lenient policy revisions. As reported by USA Today at the time, the park dropped its inside mask rule for all customers, save those on transportation, in June.
The company’s decision to pivot reflects the rapidly altering dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted from the introduction of the highly infectious delta form, as well as poor and flatlining vaccination rates in several regions of the country. It also aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines (CDC).
The CDC now advises fully vaccinated persons to continue wearing face coverings inside in areas of the country where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. According to the CDC, masking might help vaccinated persons minimize their chance of developing a breakthrough infection from the more virulent delta form, as well as transmitting the virus to others. While the COVID-19 vaccinations appear to be still fairly successful at preventing hospitalization and death due to the delta form, ongoing reports of breakout infections have understandably alarmed people. Because real-world evidence on vaccine effectiveness is constantly being updated, the CDC believes that fully vaccinated persons have a minimal probability of contracting and spreading the delta strain.
On a more local level, as case rates in the neighboring county grow, Disney is altering its mask policy. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the mayor of Orange County (where Disney World is situated) declared a state of emergency this week in response to rising case numbers and hospital overcrowding (just two months after the previous state of emergency, first enacted in March 2020, was ended). According to the Sentinel, Orange County registered 1,371 new illnesses on Tuesday, a single-day record for the county. According to the Sentinel, the level of virus discovered in samples from the county’s wastewater system (which can assist forecast changes in COVID-19 prevalence) indicates that instances will only continue to grow.
In April, Disney relaxed its masking regulations by allowing customers to remove their masks for a limited period of time when snapping photographs outside. According to USA Today, Disney made masks optional in all outdoor locations in May before removing the inside mask rule in June. According to that policy, Disney expects unvaccinated guests to continue wearing face masks in interior locations, but the corporation will not need evidence of vaccination to allow them to remove them.
Other modifications to Disney’s COVID-19 procedures, such as social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations, which stood at 35% in April and were slated to rise throughout the year, have not been revealed. The park continues to urge customers to self-screen for COVID-19, and its website warns visitors that by entering the theme park, they “voluntarily undertake any risks associated with COVID-19 exposure.” Hopefully, a more stringent masking strategy will assist to mitigate such dangers.
Sid Philips is a father of two and a loving husband. He currently resides in Pennsylvania and has been a fan of Disney since his parents took him there in 1980! Sid has visited multiple Disney parks around the world and loves each one!
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