Florida Can't Keep Disney From Requiring Masks

May 3, 2021, 5:26 PM · The State of Florida might be banning local governments from asking people to wear a mask. But it can't stop Walt Disney World from requiring you to mask up when you visit.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today issued an executive order banning local governments in the state from issuing mask orders. The governor last year had issued an order barring jurisdictions from fining people or otherwise enforcing mask orders, so today's order just means that local governments in Florida can't even ask you anymore to wear a mask to prevent the spread of Covid.

But don't try to get into a Walt Disney World theme park without wearing a mask just yet. Following the governor's order - which does not apply to private businesses in the state - Disney issued the following statement on its website:

"We are aware of the state of Florida’s plans to modify COVID-19 guidelines. We will evaluate this latest guidance and maintain our current health and safety measures at this time, including face covering requirements. We will continue to make thoughtful adjustments to our policy. As COVID-19 vaccines become available, we encourage people to get vaccinated."

Current federal guidelines from the CDC state that "masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household." As much as I might like to imagine visiting a theme park by myself, that dream would lose its appeal as soon as I realized that would mean there was no one around to dispatch any rides.

While it might be possible to stay at least six feet away from all other people outside my household at all times while visiting a less-popular, all-outdoor theme park, that's just not the case at Walt Disney World, especially as the resort moves to admit a more traditional level of visitors. And CDC guidance continues to require mask use indoors, which would apply to many rides, shows, restaurants, and shops at Disney.

What about allowing vaccinated people to go without masks? Well, an earlier DeSantis order - now Florida law - prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination in the state of Florida, so that's out. Even if that order was not in place, it would be a huge task for Disney to create a system for checking guests' proof of vaccination then providing them some non-transferrable form of identification that would mark them as vaccinated to cast members on property. It's just easier to tell people, "no mask, no service."

And for what it's worth, all this also applies to Universal Orlando, which also continues to require its visitors to wear masks when visiting its resort.

At some point, mask rules will go away from coast to coast. But not until many more Americans are vaccinated and Covid hospitalization and death rates fall close to zero. And even when that happens, always obey park rules and follow cast and team member instructions when visiting Disney, Universal, or any other theme park.

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