As Covid retreats and different countries move towards treating the virus as an endemic disease, several public and private entities have also started rolling back pandemic-era mandates. Now, it’s Walt Disney World’s turn to scrap mandatory mask usage across its parks.
The popular holiday destination, which attracts millions of visitors every year, has been tilting back and forth with restrictions over the last two years, as it struggled to keep up with both statewide curbs in Florida and mandates at a national level.
Although it initially removed the mask requirement only for vaccinated parkgoers, now the land of fairytales is dropping the rule altogether:
Visitors No Longer Required To Wear Face Coverings
Disney World has been moving away from its stricter Covid policies, which generally involved mask wearing and social distancing. Back in November 2021, park authorities even considered requiring all staff to get vaccinated against Covid, though those plans never came to fruition.
Following months of enforcing mask usage only among unvaccinated guests, after those who are fully immunized became exempt from wearing them as soon as February, Walt Disney World has since April 18 officially abolished masks for all, irrespective of vaccination status.
This means those who are planning to visit the parks in the upcoming weeks or over summer will no longer need to pack extra face masks, wear them indoors at restaurants or public transportation, when going on rides, or outdoor spaces.
Visiting Disney is again like it once was prior to March 2020.
Does This Apply Only To The Florida Parks?
Besides the lifting of the mask requirement, visitors will also be allowed to be closer to their childhood heroes, as meet-and-greets with iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and the princesses are due to return to all Disney parks and attractions in the US. They include:
- Walt Disney World
- Disney Cruises
- Aulani Resort in Hawaii
Prior to April, in order to protect its staff, Disney clamped down on face-to-face meets. Hugs, signing, and all forms of close up interactions between staff working as Disney characters and guests have also either been forbidden or strongly discouraged.
This all changes as of April 2022.
Other Companies Are Also Dropping Their Mask Mandates
The news follows the overturning of the federal mask mandate by a Florida judge earlier this week, who deemed the CDC had ‘overstepped its authority’ on the matter. The judge’s decision has been noted to influence airlines to relax their own mask policies, including Delta and United Airlines.
The judge’s ruling might also have encouraged Disney to change its stance on masks, as the company had been juggling both state and federal requirements, and dissatisfied customers who strongly opposed mask mandates.
Similarly to Disney, others such as Uber and `Lyft have also recently lifted their mask rules for both drivers and riders, adding to the list of US-based companies that are now returning to a pre-pandemic state of normality, and allowing customers to assess their own Covid risks.
Despite having joined the overall reopening trend, which has seen a number of destinations in Europe and beyond removing all Covid rules, Disney World has stated they will be ‘making adjustments to these measures, which may continue to change at any time without notice’.
This could mean a state of fewer restrictions (e.g. no masks, no social distancing, no vaccine passes or testing) is conditioned upon the maintenance of a favorable epidemiological scenario.
On their website, park authorities also encourage people to get vaccinated prior to visiting.
Though Optional, Unvaccinated Guests Are Still Advised To Wear Face Masks
While all guests are welcome to stroll the parks maskless, Disney continues to recommend mask usage for those who are not fully vaccinated, mainly in indoor venues and ‘enclosed public transportation’ in the vicinities. It is worth remarking that, despite the recommendation, masks have become optional.
For more information on available packages, restrictions that may still be in place across the parks and resorts, and what visitors can expect when going on a Disney vacation, we advise our readers to access this page, where they can follow more updates and plan their trips accordingly.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com