Universal Studios and SeaWorld aren’t following Disney in bringing back mask requirements


Planning a visit to a theme park? If Mickey Mouse isn’t there, you likely won’t need your face mask.

Earlier this week, the House of Mouse announced that visitors to Disney
DIS,
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theme parks across the U.S. will once again be required to wear face masks in all indoor areas, regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated. The revived mask policy applies to any visitors ages two and older, starting Friday.

“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,” a Disney spokesperson said. Walt Disney World is located outside of Orlando, Fla, and Disneyland is located in Anaheim, Calif.

Under Disney’s policy, the masks must have two layers, fully cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly on the sides of the face. Disney does not allow guests to wear neck gaiters, triangle bandanas or face masks with valves or mesh material.

As long as the face-mask requirement remains in place, visitors must wear them while they’re in line for and aboard rides and attractions, while they’re onboard theme park transportation such as monorails and buses, and while at restaurants, except when they’re actively eating or drinking. Masks won’t be required in outdoor spaces or at pools, and they’re not allowed when riding water slides or in the water.

Other theme parks have yet to follow Disney’s lead in requiring visitors to wear masks. Universal Orlando Resort
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+1.20%
in Florida, which includes the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks, will require employees to wear face coverings in indoor guest areas starting Saturday. But that requirement doesn’t extend to park visitors themselves.

“The health and safety of our guests and team members is always our top priority,” a Universal Orlando spokeswoman said. “We encourage all our guests to follow CDC guidelines and local directives to wear face coverings while indoors across our destination.”

(Universal Studios Hollywood does require face masks to be worn while indoors, in accordance with requirements set by Los Angeles County.)

According to statement on SeaWorld’s
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+0.19%
websites, face masks are not required for fully-vaccinated guests at its locations in Orlando, San Diego or San Antonio. (SeaWorld did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Disney’s choice to bring back the face-mask policy comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations to say that even fully-vaccinated people should resume wearing face masks indoors in public spaces in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates. The new guidance comes amid evidence that the vaccines may not be as effective at preventing infection with the delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

A recent investigation of a coronavirus outbreak in the popular vacation destination of Provincetown, Mass., found that 74% of the COVID-19 cases occurred in fully-vaccinated individuals.

Florida has seen a marked uptick in COVID cases in recent weeks. The seven-day average across the Sunshine State was over 14,200 as of Thursday, the highest level since January, according to data collected by the New York Times. That’s up from a seven-day average nearly 1,700 at the beginning of July.

California has also seen a rise in COVID cases, with the seven-day average now standing at over 8,000, up from around 1,000 at the beginning of the month.



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