With Florida and California both current COVID-19 epicenters, Walt Disney Parks said Friday that it has tweaked its mask policy for a second time in a week, while Universal canceled Halloween Horror Nights at its two theme parks for this year.
Enhanced safety protocols for Walt Disney World in Orlando and Downtown Disney in Anaheim (where the theme park remains closed) specify that not all face coverings qualify as masks. Updated guidance says neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas “are not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn.” Ties or ear loops are required.
WDW has been open for nearly two weeks at reduced capacity even as Florida virus cases surge. State health officials reported 12,444 new cases today, bringing the total to 402,312, with 135 deaths.
“What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks with these three major states,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx told the Washington Post, referring to Florida, California and Texas. (New York, the initial coronavirus epicenter, is now mostly concerned with being reinfected by out-of-staters.)
Disney has taken some heat on social media for opening at all and weathered predictions that it may need to re-close.
Meanwhile, its rules say that face coverings – disposable or not – must be made with at least two layers of breathable material; must fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin; must fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face; and must be secured with ties or ear loops to allow the guest to remain hands-free.
Earlier this week it closed another mask loophole: forbidding guests from eating and drinking while perambulating. “You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing” it now says.
Masks are being increasingly acknowledged as life savers with some reluctant governors and even President Donald Trump himself starting to heed medical experts who say the face coverings are key to containing COVID-19 spread.
McDonald’s is requiring masks in all locations starting August 1, following the lead of big retailers like Walmart, Target and Starbucks.
Separately on Friday, Comcast’s Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood announced “the difficult decision” to cancel its popular Halloween Horror Nights this year. The latter park has not yet opened.
“Universal Orlando Resort will be focusing exclusively on operating its theme parks for daytime guests, using the enhanced health and safety procedures already in place. Universal Studios Hollywood continues to face ongoing business restrictions and uncertainty around its opening timeframe,” the company said.
“We know this decision will disappoint our fans and guests. We are disappointed, too. But we look forward to creating an amazing event in 2021.”
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