Disneyland and Walt Disney World Require Face Masks Indoors Again
Welp, that didn’t take long, The Walt Disney Company took the expected path.
Yes, Disneyland and Walt Disney World require face masks once again. So what do you need to know? Well…
Why Is This Happening Again?
The Mayor of Orange County, Florida, declared another state of emergency on Thursday. He did so because of rising daily COVID-19 infection rates in the region.
On Tuesday, July 27th, Orange County reported an alarming 1,371 new cases. The day before that, the Mayor had stated, “We are now in crisis mode.” So, the signs have been here all week.
Orange County has reportedly averaged roughly 1,000 new daily cases over the past several days. Even worse, the people most affected are those who have yet to receive the vaccination.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health added a shocking data point to the discussion.
“On Friday, (there) was 1,031 cases. On Friday, (of) those (1,031) cases, no one was vaccinated. Not a single person.”
In other words, the new cases affect the people most susceptible to serious illness. Rino all but pleaded for people aged 25-44 to take the vaccine.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently pointed out that 99.5% of all recent COVID-19 deaths involved unvaccinated patients.
Just to be clear, that number would reflect that 995 out of the last 1,000 people dying of COVID-19 didn’t take their shots. Ergo, health officials view those deaths as avoidable.
As such, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced that people should wear masks indoors again.
This step is partially to protect the vaccinated. However, the tactic at least somewhat protects the unvaccinated as well.
Even those who have taken the highly effective Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can act as carriers for COVID-19, particularly the highly contagious Delta variant.
So, that’s where we’re at with the virus.
What Did Disney Just Do?
I’ve previously mentioned that Disney follows the science on its Coronavirus decisions. Since the earliest days of the pandemic – and I mean January of 2020 – executives liaised with the CDC on the subject.
Frankly, Disney knows as much about this situation as any non-healthcare company in North America.
So, park officials cast a wary (and weary) eye toward the increasing COVID-19 numbers in the United States, especially in Florida.
Disney regrettably chose to remove all signs of the pandemic at the first opportunity, which may not have been the right call with the benefit of hindsight.
I say that because we’re right back where we were in mid-May. When the CDC stated that guests didn’t need to wear face masks outdoors, Disney quickly complied.
Later, the parks removed all face-covering requirements as the country dramatically reduced its daily COVID-19 infection rates. Even better, most cases at the time were mild.
Unfortunately, the Delta variant is more problematic. So, the CDC wants people to wear masks indoors again. Last night, Disney announced that it would comply.
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland will re-institute face-covering policies starting on July 30th. Yes, that’s Friday, not Thursday.
I presume – but am only speculating – that Disney needs the extra time to inform cast members and bring back signs and audio reminders about these rules.
If you’re visiting this week, the change may seem confusing, as it will occur in mid-trip. However, if you’re visiting this fall, I honestly have no idea whether these rules will still be in place.
Everything depends on how effective the more stringent guidelines are in reducing infection rates. For now, I think it’s reasonable to expect a face-covering requirement throughout August. That’s pure speculation, though.
What Are the Face Mask Rules at Disney Theme Parks?
Here’s a quick refresher course on Disney’s face covering policies in case you’ve forgotten.
You must wear a face mask anytime you’re inside or riding Disney transportation. Here’s a cut and paste of the rules from mid-May:
“Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members.
Please bring your own face coverings and wear them in all indoor locations, except when actively eating or drinking while stationary and maintaining appropriate physical distancing.
Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World Resort, but are still required upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation.”
Disney has confirmed the ages 2 and up part again. In looking at the other guidelines from May, they appear reasonable enough that I expect the official site to update with similar language at some point today.
I want to stress that this isn’t as big a deal as it sounds. We’re only 10 weeks removed from feeling a collective sense of relief that we didn’t need to wear face masks outdoors. That’s still true today.
Disney doesn’t require you to wear a face mask in the Florida/California heat. The newly updated rules only apply to indoor locales and transportation.
Disney’s Official Statement
Here is Disney’s official statement on the policy update:
“We are adapting our health and safety guidelines based on guidance from health and government officials, and will require Cast Members and Guests ages 2 and up, to wear face coverings in all indoor locations at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort beginning Friday, July 30, regardless of vaccination status.
At Walt Disney World Resort, this includes upon entering and throughout all attractions and in enclosed transportation vehicles, including shuttles, buses, monorails and at Disney Skyliner.”
Hopefully, this decision is merely temporary, as that would indicate a healthier population overall, which is what we all want.
Be safe and smart, my friends.