Walt Disney World Lifts Mask Requirement

Walt Disney World Lifts Mask Requirement
Mickey Mouse rides in a parade at Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 11, 2001. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Nicholas Dolinger

Walt Disney World lifted the last remnants of its longstanding mask mandate on Wednesday, allowing park visitors to attend the Disney World parks in Florida unmasked if they choose for the first time in over two years.

On Tuesday, Disney announced the new policy to allow unvaccinated patrons at the company's famous Florida amusement parks to participate without wearing a mask, shedding the last vestiges of a mask policy that has been propped up by corporate inertia long after the state mandates receded.

"Face coverings are optional for Guests in both outdoor and indoor locations, as well as Disney transportation," says a statement on the Walt Disney World website. "It is recommended Guests who are not fully vaccinated continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters and on enclosed transportation."

While Florida law has maintained relaxed CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions for the past year, the Disney World parks have been slow to catch up to the state in relaxing mask mandates.

On May 3, 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis formally ended the state's indoor mask mandate, although the rule had been abolished de facto since March 10 of that year when DeSantis issued an executive order remitting fines for individuals and businesses related to CCP virus restrictions. DeSantis has subsequently taken action to prevent municipalities and state schools from imposing their own mask mandates.

However, despite the state's consistently relaxed policies, Disney parks have chosen to maintain an often strict enforcement of mask rules and regulations. Disney World parks maintained a rigorously enforced indoor mask requirement for all guests until last February, when the company lifted the mandate for the vaccinated, with certain exceptions for First Aid stations and shuttles.

The announcement comes amid a broader relaxing of mask regulations in the United States, as the consensus shifts to reflect the increasingly endemic nature of the CCP virus.

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mandate to wear masks on public transportation nationwide, a mandate which has been repeatedly extended since its establishment.

Simultaneously, many businesses which have persisted in enforcing mask compliance have begun to relax their policies.

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