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Visitors headed to one Florida theme park this weekend are in for a big COVID-19 policy change.
Universal Orlando just announced a major adjustment to its face-covering policies, according to WDW News Today. From Saturday, Feb. 12, fully vaccinated visitors will no longer need to wear face masks, either outdoors or indoors. This includes all restaurants, shops, transportation and indoor hotel public areas.
Unvaccinated guests are still encouraged to wear face coverings whenever they are indoors.
At the end of 2021, amid the omicron coronavirus surge, Universal Orlando made face coverings mandatory at all indoor public locations for guests and team members, regardless of vaccination status.
Today’s announcement may come as a surprise to many, as it follows a week when Florida’s COVID-19 positivity rates jumped to 20% — albeit down from a record high of 34% (from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, 2022).
In August of 2021, Walt Disney adjusted its face mask policies after new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance came out recommending the use of indoor face masks by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in areas of significant COVID-19 spread.
Currently, the entire state of Florida meets the CDC criteria for “substantial transmission” — 50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or a positivity rate between 8% and 10%.
At this time, Disney still mandates that all guests 2 and older wear masks in all indoor locations, including restaurants, indoor queues and transportation, regardless of vaccination status.
Time will tell to what extent there is a ripple effect with Universal’s sudden face-covering policy shift. After all, we’ve seen throughout the pandemic that when one major Florida theme park introduces or lifts pandemic precautions, the others have quickly followed.
Additional reporting by Summer Hull.
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