Walt Disney World in Florida will no longer require guests to wear face masks when they’re on rides or in line outdoors as of Thursday, Disney announced Wednesday, loosening the resort’s mask rules just weeks after they were reimposed amid a massive Covid-19 surge in Florida.
Disney reimposed its mask mandate on July 30 for indoor spaces and all rides and attractions, including ones outdoors.
Walt Disney World confirmed to Forbes that masks will now be optional for outdoor rides, theater shows and queues.
Masks will still be required indoors and on buses, monorails and Disney’s Skyliner gondolas.
1,362. That’s the seven-day average number of new Covid-19 cases in Orange County, Florida, where Walt Disney World is located, as of Tuesday according to public health data compiled by the New York Times. The Times notes the county’s new case count over the past week is the highest yet during the pandemic—part of a broader Covid outbreak in Florida that ranks among the highest in the world—and county health official Dr. Raul Pino said Monday “the rate of transmission is such that anyone who is unvaccinated should expect to get this disease.”
Disney’s decision to loosen its mask policy in Florida—as localities, states and school districts nationwide are tightening them—comes after the company’s leadership said on a recent earnings call they intended to continue to reopen their U.S. theme parks and increase capacity despite the surge of Covid-19 infections nationwide, with a plan to be fully staffed by the end of the year. (Though all the company’s theme parks have reopened, Walt Disney World hotels are only operating at 70% capacity and some restaurants have remained closed.) Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the company planned to continue its theme park reopening in an “aggressively but measured” way, though she acknowledged the company is being “careful” and their plan is dependent on the “ever-changing landscape with Covid.”
Disney Theme Parks Will Continue To Reopen And Increase Capacity Despite Delta Variant Surge, CEO Says — Including In Florida (Forbes)
Disney World And Disneyland Reimpose Mask Mandates Amid Covid-19 Delta Variant Spread (Forbes)