Orlando Theme Parks Scale Back More COVID Rules

From our friends at WDBO-

In a reflection of Florida’s rapidly-changing social landscape, at least where COVID-19 mandates are concerned, health and safety rules are slowly being trimmed at major central Florida theme parks as the state’s pandemic recovery persists.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 21-102 on Monday ― superseding and terminating all other coronavirus-related emergency orders in Florida ― further enforcement of social distancing and mask mandates was left up to employers.

In the days that followed, the safety guidance webpages for Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World were updated to loosen social distancing rules and phase out temperature checks at the parks in accordance with the latest word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While most original safety rules remain in place, such as how face-coverings are still required in most circumstances outside of eating and drinking at the parks, here are the latest changes:

At Universal Orlando, social distancing among travel parties has been reduced to 3 feet, and temperature checks are no longer required of guests and team members.

SeaWorld Orlando has also ended temperature checks and no longer gives specifics as to how far apart guests and ambassadors should keep themselves, opting to only recommend “Physical Distancing” in guest areas as denoted by signage and ground markings.

Walt Disney World is currently phasing out temperature checks and will end them completely by May 16; while no written text on their coronavirus update webpage specifies if guests and cast members should stay 3 or 6 feet apart, the thumbnail used for their “Physical Distancing” guidelines shows two figures with 6 feet of space illustrated between them:

During the latest Orange County COVID-19 update on Thursday, Mayor Jerry Demings implored county residents and businesses to continue following the three-phase approach he outlined in April.

In the guidance, Phase 1 took effect immediately, reducing the physical distancing limit from 6 to 3 feet in Orange County; Phase 2 begins when 50 percent of county residents 16+ have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, doing away with the need to wear masks outdoors, and Phase 3 at 70-percent vaccinated would see all restrictions lifted.

On Thursday, Mayor Demings reported that 46.17 percent of Orange County residents 16+ had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The plan, though now reduced to what’s essentially a pamphlet of suggestions following Gov. DeSantis’ erasure of all such mandates earlier this week, is still being used as a playbook by a number of local businesses that may include the theme parks, according to Mayor Demings:

“Many of our largest employers have already consented to following this phased approach,” Demings said.

After all, these are the same businesses that Mayor Demings has praised for a 99-percent compliance rating with the county’s COVID-19 “Strike Teams:”

“So, with 99-percent compliance, we really no longer needed the executive order,” Demings said.

Looking ahead, Walt Disney World has reportedly been looking to the CDC in hopes to reduce the distance between guests waiting in line for attractions, according to an update in March.

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