With the flick of a pen and a press conference in St. Petersberg earlier today, Florida governor Ron DeSantis formally removed nearly all remaining state restrictions on businesses that had been in place due to COVID-19. Among other things, they include:
- Restaurants and bars can operate at full capacity
- Non-essential travel resumes
- Gyms can be open at full capacity
- Government meetings can be held in person
- Sporting events can reopen but consider reduced capacity
- Retail stores can operate at full capacity
- Vacation rentals can resume normal operations
- Concert halls and auditoriums can reopen
- Theme parks can return to normal operations
So what does this mean for Walt Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld and all the other parks in the area?
Frankly, probably not a whole lot. The theme parks in Central Florida are all private property (in fact, WDW runs its own government so they in particular have a lot of leeway) so they can make whatever rules they’d like in terms of COVID.
Social distancing was mentioned in governor’s speech, albeit in a passive way, and is expected to continue.
Gov. DeSantis also didn’t say anything about abolishing mask use.
Which leaves the issue of capacity. It’s been noted that, at least at WDW and Universal, capacity, which had been at roughly 25% when the resorts respectively opened, appears to have increased over the past few weeks. Neither park has made any sort of announcement or given any specific numbers, but I’ve heard rumors of upwards of 40% capacity caps. Plus I’ve seen pictures of weekend crowds in recent weeks and yeah, they’re pretty darn crowded. Waits for lines are also significantly longer than they had been a few months ago, which would also point to more people being in the parks.
But yeah…”theme parks can return to normal operations.” Will they? As of this writing, no park has made any announcement in response to the new rules but frankly, I doubt they’ll make any significant changes at this time. The more crowds there are, the higher the chances of anyone who’s asymptomatic or presymptomatic passing the virus on to someone else. If they end social distancing, mask use and other protective measures, that increase the chances of infection even more. And let’s face it – the last thing any park needs is the publicity that a bunch of people got COVID-19 there (although with how much contact tracing is in place [read: virtually none], how that could be done is beyond me). Cases appear to be happening behind the scenes, but they can keep those quiet. If a bunch of guests wind up getting it at a park? That would be a publicity nightmare. So at this point, it’s probably in each park’s best interests to keep safety measures in place.
With this new ruling in place, it’s also not as if Florida is out of the woods in terms of coronavirus. Yesterday the Florida Dep’t of Health reported there were nearly 3,000 new cases (if their numbers are accurate. There have been questions in the past if they are). There are many, both citizens and politicians who wonder if this near-complete reopening is “too much, too soon” and is based more on thoughts about the economy and the election, than on peoples’ health.
Whatever the case, IF the parks wanted to return to normal operations right now, they could. Many think they will be wise not to, and I think they’re smart enough to not, as well. As with everything else, time will tell.
Feature Photo: Snappygoat
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary