Florida & California Requiring Face Masks
We’ve discussed Walt Disney World’s mask requirement in the parks and around resorts at great length (with hundreds of you offering your feedback). Likewise, Disneyland recently confirmed that it would mandate face coverings for guests and Cast Members despite its Orange County rescinding an order requiring masks.
Now, Governor Gavin Newsom issued new guidance in conjunction with the California Department of Public Health requiring that face coverings be worn in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible, with limited exceptions. This is being done to limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as to reinforce physical distancing.
This comes a couple of days after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a public plea for Floridians people to wear masks, and said he was considering whether to write an executive order requiring people to do so to avoid a second shutdown. In this post, we’ll share further details on the latest developments in California and Florida, plus the potential impact on Walt Disney World and Disneyland…
California’s new mask requirement comes as the state further relaxes stay-at-home restrictions, with more businesses slated to reopen this Friday. The number of confirmed infections in California continues to hit new highs, with 4,291 new cases on Wednesday, a new single-day record and the first time the state has broken the 4,000 barrier since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a statement, Newsom said that California is “seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.” Per Newsom, “California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing.”
Meanwhile in Florida, Orange County has set new single-day records for cases six of the last seven days, as numbers have steadily increased. Central Florida has now surpassed 10,000 cases, and Florida as a whole reported an additional 3,207 coronavirus cases Thursday, by far the largest daily increase yet and hundreds more infections than the previous record.
According to a new model by scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, Florida has “all of the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission.” While Florida is seeing a record-high seven-day average, it’s not all bad news–hospitalizations in Orange County remain low (once you get past the headline), and although they have experienced a “slight uptick” in the number of patients, local hospitals report no alarming numbers so far.
While not alarming, all of this is definitely concerning as Florida continues the process of reopening, and remains largely devoid of tourists. Central Florida leaders are not the only ones concerned with the growing caseload and how that could stymie efforts to reopen the economy.
In a potential preview of what could be in store for other tourist destinations, the Florida Keys will now require masks until June 2021, with a civil fine of $500 for those who violate the ordinance. Of course, that could be rescinded before next year, but it’s nonetheless a sign that you might not want to get your hopes up about Disney rolling back the mask rule by this fall or winter.
UPDATE: About 10 minutes after this post was published, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings held a press conference at which he issued an executive order requiring every person in the county to wear a mask, an effort to try to stem a second wave. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the county order will cover the city as well, and urged residents to wear masks even in the Florida heat and humidity.
This order will go into effect on June 20, 2020 and remain in place indefinitely–Demings stated “we’re buying time with this measure…until a vaccine or cure for the virus is found.” Masks must be worn in public places, but people are permitted to take off the mask while eating or drinking. Employees of businesses must wear a face covering at all times. There will not be any criminal sanctions for violations at this time, but those could be added if Floridians don’t comply with the order.
Orange County’s new order has minimal impact on Walt Disney World, as masks are already required at Disney Springs and will soon extend that rule to apply to its theme parks and resorts. Even in the absence of such an order, it’s the company’s prerogative to enact rules beyond what’s required by law as a private business.
It’s the same idea behind a convenience store, gas station, or even a theme park having a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign even though the government doesn’t make you cover your feet. Outside of the Imagination Lounge (which is basically the wild west), no one seems bothered by the footwear requirement in the parks.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland proactively made these rules at the behest of local public health expert guidance and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance. This strongly encourages cloth face coverings or masks in public, at events or gatherings.
Per the CDC, cloth face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. These are not surgical masks or respirators—they’re not personal protective equipment. Cloth face coverings are for the benefit of others, and are mutually beneficial when worn by both parties to an interaction.
In accordance with the CDC and other health experts, the rules at Disneyland and Walt Disney World apply to all guests ages 2 and older. However, the parks plans to offer “relaxation zones” where guests will be able to remove their face masks for relief from the summer heat, away from crowds and foot traffic.
Otherwise, guests must wear masks at all times, with limited exceptions for eating and drinking or swimming. Face coverings must even be worn in pool areas and while entering and exiting restaurants.
While California’s new guidance allows medical exemptions, Walt Disney World and Disneyland have not yet addressed whether guests with disabilities, medical, or mental health conditions will be required to wear masks. Universal is allowing limited exemptions, and it seems likely that Disney will follow suit and allow modified face masks to the extent feasible (think face shields).
However, it’s worth noting here that the ADA requires no “reasonable accommodation” for face masks, as doing so would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. This comes directly from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The basis for this is that cloth face coverings protect other people from a wearer who is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Meaning that these masks are not PPE, but rather for the benefit of others, and are mutually beneficial when worn by both parties to an interaction—which means that guests wearing masks help protect Cast Members.
This is the problem with simply allowing people to choose whether or not to wear masks. The person making the decision is not the one who will suffer the consequences of their action. (Which is why Cast Member unions fought for masks in the first place–to protect employees.)
Recent research by the University of Cambridge shows that even homemade masks can prove 90% effective at preventing transmission, and a policy of total face mask adoption can still prevent a second wave.
Moreover, both Hong Kong and Japan adopted near-universal masking on their own–and didn’t do much else in terms of prophylactic measures–and have fared much better than the United States. Even with the denser populations, congested mass transit, and relatively lax restrictions, both have seen far fewer cases and hospitalizations than other nations.
Ultimately, this development out of California (and potential change in Orange County, Florida) has minimal impact right now since Walt Disney World and Disneyland both already planned on requiring masks. However, it could be more significant down the road as it means the mask requirement will remain in effect at last as long as mandated by local law even if the rule is unpopular with Disney’s guests.
State or county mandates could also have the effect of normalizing mask-wearing in Florida and California (doubtful) or at least shielding Disney from guest blame and making the practice more accepted as the temporary abnormal. There’s no sugarcoating the reality that wearing a mask all-day, every-day in the summer heat and humidity of Florida during a lengthy Walt Disney World trip is going to be unpleasant. However, if that’s the difference between the parks opening or not–or worse yet, another lockdown or not–we say bring on the masks.
If you have questions about the closure, including policy changes and what we know thus far, please consult our Walt Disney World Reopening FAQ & Info, which should answer most inquiries. See our other WDW Closure & Reopening Updates for the latest news. If you’re planning a Walt Disney World trip, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know.
Are you concerned about a second wave in Orange County (Florida or California) potentially causing another shutdown? Willing to wear a face mask if that’s what it takes to reduce the risk? Do you have plans to visit Walt Disney World this summer or fall, will you avoid the parks while these temporary rules are in effect? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
You don’t like wearing a mask? Well, you’re going to *love* the ventilator!!
Bravo to Disney for being proactive with the masks! My mask protects you and your mask protects me. Think of your fellow man.
As for parents saying their children will not wear a mask – Start now with just a few minutes at a time. Allow them to get used to the idea. Let them know that if they do not wear the mask, they will not go. It’s just like shoes. No shoes then you don’t go. No mask then you don’t go. Children are very adaptable. They will pull through for you.
And yes, I am a parent of 2 girls.
If people feel a need to wear a mask and feel that unsafe they should stay home. It’s not normal and adds to the unrest and stress of this stressed out nation. Go out when you feel its safe not to wear a bio suit
Can you tell my why my reply wss no posted
Can you tell me why my post does not show
Do your children have special needs that infringe on their ability to cope with the sensory problems involved with wearing a mask??? I refuse to be told that geting my child should adjust or adapt. As a parents of special needs childen this discriminates agains their ability to experience the world. My son is deaf and blind. And wears lots of medical equipment to make up for these disabilities. He relies on people’s faces to function. This is devastating to his life. We are not the only ones.
Information overload! Have you tried to get a 4 year old to wear a mask? It’s like wrestling a greased pig. We are set to go to WDW this Aug/Sept and I am nervous as all get out. I am not sure it is worth it at this point.
It is not worth it. Don’t go. I know it’s hard to hear, incredibly disappointing. But under current circumstances, it is not worth it to take kids. WDW will still be there in 2021 and 2022, and your child will get taller, able to ride more rides, and better able to comply with any health protocols that might still be in place, including long waits for rides that only fill half the seats and get sanitized between uses.
I’m very grateful for the two people who told me to cancel my October reservations.
1) A YouTube Orlando parks vlogger I won’t name in case it breaks some rule here. He came out and said “Don’t come in 2020” in recent videos. Anyone who isn’t local should not go to the effort and expense until 2021.
2) Our family doctor. Sure, he generally doesn’t think anyone should visit a place that has thousands of people in it right now. But he made the case that while an adults only trip might be feasible, he unabashedly told me that my youngest kids, ages 6 and 9, would not sufficiently comply with all the efforts, whether pulling down masks, avoiding touching unnecessary surfaces and objects, avoiding touching their face, and washing and sanitizing their hands enough.
All that before you consider your own discomfort wearing the mask in Florida heat and the frustrations of dealing with a child who is uncomfortable–and sure to let you know it.
I still think you should do a post about best masks for Disney.
I think face shields could be a really great option.
Do I relish the thought of wearing masks all day? Of course not. It’s not fun. But it IS necessary and is a simple step that will help slow this thing!! Such a quick and easy step to protect each other!
Off topic – Tom what do you think about RunDisney ever coming back? I can’t imagine it could be done until there is a vaccine or sufficient herd immunity. I will admit to being crazy and practicing running in a mask (that’s how this all ties in) all this spring and now into the summer, and it definitely adds a new degree of difficulty. Doubly so once the humidity kicked in.
I wonder what the profit margins were….significantly cutting the number of registrations to a RunDisney event would have to make it unprofitable, even if it does fill hotels. then there is aid stations and the level of interaction there….bathrooms. i just don’t see it being possible to enact sufficient safety measures or profitable at all. Which makes me sad because I love running in Disney
My husband told me about a friend of his mother’s who went to Universal. He wasn’t feeling good before he left. He came home and his whole family tested positive for the virus. This is why we need to wear masks because he made it through the check points and spent time in the park spreading the virus. The only possible protection that other people had was if his family was wearing masks and social distancing. The same person who doesn’t think to get tested before they leave on vacation if they are not feeling well to protect others also will not be willing to wear a mask for the safety of others unless required to do so.
Thank you for sharing this story. I hope everyone recovers with no long term health issues. This is precisely why masks are critical. While it does evolve as we gain more knowledge, especially with a new virus, science is real. Masks are, unquestionably, mutually beneficial. Studies and anecdotal evidence overwhelming support their effectiveness at curbing spread. No one anywhere on earth would say they like wearing one. Of course we’d all prefer not to. However, it is one the easiest ways to show that you care about the community. It says “hey thanks, worker, for being out here in the Wild West of health safety so I can get my Starbucks” or “hey neighbor at the grocery store, we all need things, and I know this is an easy way for me to do it while still looking out for you.” If we want the economy to be open, jobs to come back, healthcare to stabilize, and restrictions to loosen, then we need to do our part to protect all of that. Otherwise, spikes and waves could potentially cause tightening again, or, worse and more difficult to mitigate, it will continuously erode the public’s comfort and confidence. Going shopping, going to bars and restaurants, taking vacations, all of these things are privileges. The least we all can do is not take such luxuries for granted and show the people making it possible that we value them as human beings by putting on a dang mask.
I think the mandatory wearing of masks is fine if the goal is to prevent anyone from ever getting the coronavirus or any other virus. But is that the goal? My understanding is that the goal has been to prevent a surge in hospitals. In Massachusetts – a pretty hard hit state with close to 8,000 deaths, the majority of those who had the virus did not require hospitalization and recovered. Let’s relax the panic a little.
The problem with looking back at what happened (or didn’t) is viewing that in the context of unprecedented societal shutdowns. As states and businesses reopen, we’re seeing spikes in cases and hospitalizations. As reopenings continue, further increases are an inevitability absent mitigation efforts.
Masks are such a mitigation effort, and hopefully sufficient for us to balance reopening and resuming some semblance of normalcy with safety and not overwhelming hospital capacity.
Yes most people recover. But our very good friend in Georgia, who never had to be hospitalized, has permanent lung damage. A very healthy 54 year old man who is what most of us consider in “excellent health” no longer can say that. And if you are one of the families of the 8,000 deaths? Is it going to take everyone knowing someone who died to make them realize the dangers? I live in Polk County and the amount of people wearing masks drops every day. I had to ask someone to please follow the distancing markers in a store, as she was less than 12 inches away from me in line. Legoland was horrible, we had to leave. Less than 10% of people there had masks on. I want things back to normal too. I’m not going to Europe this fall for the 4week trip we had planned. I miss going to see my kids who live in 3 other states. But I have partaken in a virtual funeral and it is not something I want others to have to do. So yes-let’s not panic. Let’s be kind human beings with a little common sense. I just don’t think people have that in them anymore, or at least the majority. It makes me sad.
The goal is not to “prevent anyone” from getting the virus. It is to dramatically REDUCE viral spread, potentially even eliminating it.
Epidemics spread geometrically if not contained — things can spiral out of control quickly: If each infected person, infects 2 more people on average, who then each infect 2 more, etc, etc… Even if you have enough hospital beds, such spread will lead to lots and lots of DEATH. And if the hospital system gets overwhelmed, then it will lead to even more death.
But consistent masking — It doesn’t eliminate every infection. But it means each infected person infects, on average, 1/2 of a person, instead of 2 people. (numbers for illustration only.. but without masks, the reproduction number is over 2.0, with masks, it is under 1.0). As long as the number is below 1.0, the infection numbers will decrease.. the infection will actually eventually go away.
Let’s illustrate.. imagine you have a R0 of 2.0 without masks, with a 1 week cycle.
You start with 1,000 infected people, let’s see what happens in 8 weeks:
Total infected people:
So with no masks, for example, you might go in just 8 weeks from 1000 infection to 511,000 infections. If there is a case fatality ratio of 0.5%, (which is about the minimum per most studies), that’s 2,555 deaths.
Now, let’s start with 1,000 infections and put everyone in masks, and assuming the masks and other measures lead to a R0 of 0.5:
1,000 –> 1,500 –> 1,750 –>1,875–>1,937 –> 1,968 –>1,984 –> 1,992 –>1,996
So in 8 weeks, still under 2,000 total infections — about 10 deaths.
This is how the disease was successfully squashed in places like South Korea, Czechia, etc.
Now, of course, there are lots of outcomes between the 10 deaths and 2,555 — Depending on the consistency of masks and other measures. Lots of hand washing helps a lot. Social distancing helps. If 50% of people wear masks 50% of the time, it helps. But if 95% of people wear masks 95% of the time — then it helps a lot.
And when you do it all, that’s how you get the 10 deaths instead of 2,500 deaths.
I mean jumping off a balcony has a low mortality rate for most people, we still put up guard rails, because you might live but your life won’t be the same. Survivors have permanent damage to lungs and kidneys, even if they don’t, my friends who had it said it lasts 3 weeks and is the sickest you’ve ever been in your life.
I hate the flu. I get my flu shot, keep my distance and wash my hands to avoid the flu. The flu is unlikely to kill me. I don’t see why anyone thinks this won’t be such a big deal.
One goal of wearing masks now is to reduce the number of cases to buy more time for scientists and medical workers to learn more about covid-19 so that they can treat people more effectively. There still is no effective treatment for covid-19 itself, only care for symptoms. They are learning so much more about this virus with each passing month.
Long time reader who doesn’t comment much here: Tom, really glad to see you guys supporting the responsible position of wearing a mask and cancelling unnecessary travel. I know many people in the comments are quick to say they don’t want to wear masks on their vacation, but those of us who live here and whose healthcare system is impacted by tourist’s decisions appreciate your clear messaging on the subject. May the odds be ever in your favor when you venture out to Publix, and I hope you guys stay safe.
The biggest bummer is having to wear them in pool areas?! Now those going to just stay at a resort without going to the parks can’t even lounge by the pool mask free! Will be interesting to see how strict they are about enforcing it.
The requiring of masks rests on a three legged stool. First that there are a bunch of people with covid running around in public and don’t know they’ve got it. Second that an asymptomatic person can spread it and in public with minimal interaction, and third that masks either prevent said person from spreading (or a healthy person from getting it depending on who’s wearing the mask).
You’re not going to convince healthy people that they’ve got it and need to wear a mask. The longer this goes on and nobody sees anything then complaints will decrease.
I work with patients every week who have COVID-19. I know exactly the risks and how to protect myself. Four months in and I’m still clean. In some circumstances all I need is a mask. In others, I need a bit more.
Were I still a CM, I would absolutely wear a mask outside. Why? Yes, it’s safer outside but in my experience there is often little breeze in Lake Buena Vista during the summer, and that’s needed to disperse the micro-aerosols that carry the SARS-CoV-2 molecules. Also, frequently when outdoors I’ll suddenly be surrounded by people, and it’s better that I not have to think about needing to raise my mask. If I had to work indoors or near a queue, I would demand full protection: a hat, head cover, medical-grade respirator, face shield, gown, and you better believe these hands would be double-bagged.
Okay, I’m being melodramatic, but we need to take safety seriously. I don’t know if each stranger is going to follow the rules. PLEASE – wear your mask and keep it on.
Our family of three, including our 2 year old are stocked up on masks. Although we bought some from Shop Disney that who knows when will arrive. I’m starting to regret it. All their website says is pre-order and they will email you when your order ships and we bought ours awhile ago. I really hope they sell them in the parks as well. But we’ve been practicing with our 2 year old. Putting them on, making it fun, adjusting her to wearing a mask inside and we might take walks wearing the masks. I’ve worn masks for work for extended periods of time, and cloth masks are much more manageable than an N95, we have a variety of cloth masks for our hopeful trio to DLR In August. Still anxiously awaiting on the reservation process.
The pre-order masks on shop Disney had a date of when they would ship, when you placed your order. If you pull up your order, the date should show ship date. I pre-ordered them & my ship date is July 15th. However, they have started to sell the same masks at Disney Springs & are in stock there, so I am sure they will sell them in the parks as well. Same price too.
My teenage sons (15&18) went to Six Flags Over Georgia on Monday (June 15) which was their first day of reopening. We were there for four hours and the heat and humidity were both much lower than they usually are here at this time of year. Still, the masks were less than fun (they were also not being worn correctly by many people, including park workers). That was enough to tell us we will not enjoy WDW until the time comes when we don’t have to wear masks. Even without the extra heat and humidity things like climbing stairs with the masks on were so difficult I had to stop at the top and catch my breath. It’s not worth it to us. I understand the need, but it would not be an enjoyable vacation, so we will wait.