Under new CDC guidance face masks return to Disney today, remain optional at Universal Orlando

Jul 30, 2021

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Throughout the pandemic, what one major Florida theme park did with introducing or lifting pandemic precautions, the others quickly followed. But that may have just changed in a major way.

Walt Disney World recently adjusted its face mask policies one day after new Centers of Disease Control (CDC) guidance came out recommending the use of indoor face masks by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in areas of significant COVID-19 spread. However, its neighbor Universal Orlando is currently heading in a different direction.

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As reported by Scott Gustin, Universal Orlando released a statement that beginning on July 31, face coverings will again be required by employees when working indoors. However, that requirement does not extend to guests.

In California, Universal Studios Hollywood does have an indoor face mask requirement in place in line with local restrictions in California. But, when it comes to guests, Univeral Orlando has simply updated its policy to encourage — but not require — indoor mask usage across the resort.

We encourage all our guests to follow CDC guidelines and local directives to wear face coverings while indoors across Universal Orlando Resort. Face coverings are optional while outdoors. We also encourage all guests to keep a safe distance between travel parties, and we remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards.

Due to the surge of cases and the transmissibility of the delta variant, on July 27, the CDC guidelines recommend the use of face masks when indoors by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in areas of ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ transmission. Currently, the entire state of Florida meets the CDC criteria for that level of cases with Orange County, the home to Universal Orlando, coming in at the highest transmission rating.

Related: Why you may want to rethink that Florida theme park trip

The Orlando area’s AdventHealth hospital system currently has more than 1,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, which reportedly surpasses its previous peak. It has now declared a ‘black level’ status in order to delay non-emergent procedures and free up additional capacity.

Additionally, this week the mayor of Orange County has declared a local state of emergency and described the current situation as ‘crisis mode’.

According to a July 28 executive order from the mayor’s office, the 14-day positivity average for Orange County is on the increase at over 15% with approximately 1,371 persons testing positive for COVID-19 in one day in the county — the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

In a July 29 earnings call, the parent company of NBCUniversal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, shared that Univeral Orlando theme park attendance is back to 2019 levels faster than anticipated. This matches with visual observations from my recent mid-July trip.

Related: Face masks again required in Las Vegas 

Photo of Universal Orlando taken on July 17, 2021 (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Orlando-area COVID-19 cases are reaching all-time highs, full-sized crowds are back at Universal Orlando and face masks remain recommended, but optional for all Universal Orlando guests.

Featured image by author.

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