When Walt Disney World reopened in July 2020, after being closed since March, it had lots and LOTS of new rules and procedures for coronavirus. Parks were capped at 35% of their normal maximal capacity, sanitation procedures were upped to the nth degree, and social distancing and frequent handwashing were strongly encouraged. Lots of plexiglass barriers were installed, and all guests were required to wear proper face masks at all times, and the rules for mask-wearing were pretty complete:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming. You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings.
Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.
The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Most Disney guests have been compliant with wearing masks (much more so than this Central Florida theme park). There have been a handful of problems and even altercations here and there, but the threat of being ejected (and it has happened) has seemed to be a good deterrent for most people visiting the parks.
The rules for wearing masks at Walt Disney World have been pretty consistent since they went into effect, albeit with some minor tweaks here and there (i.e., the “you can remove your mask while eating and drinking if you’re socially distanced and standing still” was introduced a week or two after the parks reopened, when people were walking around with their masks under their chins, nursing their bottle of water all day. That also eventually changed from “you SHOULD be stationary and socially distanced” to “you MUST be…”). However, they’ve just made a change that doesn’t really change anything, although very important during these changing times. Here’s what the rules now say:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming. You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.
Making everyone still wear a mask makes good sense from a coordination point of view. I mean, if Disney’s new rules were that you didn’t have to wear a mask if you have gotten your COVID shot, how would anyone be able to differentiate, at a quick glance, between someone who’s been vaccinated and someone who hasn’t but just didn’t want to wear a mask?
It’s like a situation a friend of mine recently went through. She went to Epcot wearing a mask that has a mesh exterior but was backed by a 5-layer filter.
From a safety point of view, her mask would be fine and is probably better than most cloth masks – it had 5 filters! But because it was mesh (see above: “…face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings“), it wasn’t allowed.
But let’s say a cast member (Disneyspeak for “employee”) allowed her to wear her mask because it had the 5 filters. You KNOW there would be another guest – who wanted to beat the system, who wasn’t very smart, you name it – who would complain that SHE could wear HER mesh mask and HE couldn’t wear HIS (which was ONLY mesh).
So it’s just better to follow the hard and fast rule of “no masks that contain mesh.” It’s the same thing with everyone still having to wear a mask, even those who’ve gotten their COVID vaccine.
But even more important than logistics and avoiding confrontation, the updated policy is also in line with the CDC’s current recommendation that people who have received their vaccine for coronavirus should still wear a mask. From the CDC:
Not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision.
So for now (and perhaps forever? Do you see that “… if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks part???), everything stays the same. Even if you’ve gotten your COVID vaccine, you still have to wear a mask at WDW.
Feature Photo: Disney
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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary