Masks are back at Disney theme parks as Delta variant surges

Masks are back at Disney theme parks as Delta variant surges
Parks dropped their indoor mask mandates just last month

All is not well in the Magic Kingdom.

Starting on Friday, masks will be required indoors at Disney theme parks in the US, as the Delta variant continues its rapid spread across the country.

All guests at the popular parks two years and older are required to wear masks inside, even if they’re vaccinated, the company’s website stipulates.

(It also, in a bit of only-at-Disney public health regulation, reminds attendees that, “Costume masks are not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.”)

Guests won’t need to bring any proof of vaccination, and don’t need to wear masks outsides, but the mandate does cover a number of settings like rides and attractions, plus the monorail and bus system that connects different parts of the massive theme parks in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California.

The mouse’s move reflects a larger policy shift underway in the country, after the CDC announced this week it would recommend vaccinated people return to wearing masks in high-transmission areas, and that all those in schools wear a mask once again.

What’s going on in the parks often serves as a barometer for the state of the virus at large in America. Disney shuttered its attractions in March at the outset of the pandemic, and re-opened last July with distancing and masks. From there, it experimented with various configurations, including a partial reopening in California this April, and dropping the indoor mask mandate for the vaccinated this June

The Florida park took on an even more ambitious task: housing numerous NBA teams during the final 13-weeks of the previous basketball season in a giant Covid “bubble” including strict quarantine rules and testing regimes.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Park employees reported being given little information about the extent of Covid cases among their coworkers, and layoffs cut jobs in the fall.

Others expressed horror at gigantic lines of maskless people who turned out on 15 June to re-enter the California park once the state’s mask mandate was lifted.

Infections are increasing in California and Florida, where Disney’s US parks are located, as well as across the country, as the Delta variant spreads rapidly among the unvaccinated and even infects some of those who have gotten the jab.

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