Disney Alters Theme Park Coronavirus Mask Guidelines Amid Growing Spikes

Walt Disney Parks has announced some changes to their face mask policy as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., with Florida and California being particularly hard-hit. The Disney theme parks announced on Friday that it would alter its mask guidelines for the second time since reopening earlier in July.

The revised rules now state that face coverings have to be made with at least two layers of breathable material, whether they're disposable or not, according to Deadline. They also must fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face and be secured with ties or ear loops to allow the guest to remain hands-free. The prior revision also forbids guests from eating and drinking outside designated areas. "You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing," the official guidelines state.

Enhanced safety protocols for Walt Disney World in Orlando and Downtown Disney in Anaheim also specified that not all face coverings qualify as masks. Specifically, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas "are not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn," meaning that the mask has to fit around the ears.

Prior to the ever-changing guidelines, Disney parks had primarily been criticized for deciding to resume business as (mostly) usual amid an ongoing pandemic. Additionally, Florida's Walt Disney World Disney World has put the responsibility on the park's guests to maintain social distance on their own, though certain aspects of the park have helped to accommodate this. While inarguably controversial, the decision to reopen has been met with consistently large crowds, even with lowered capacity.

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Miami, Florida has widely been considered to be the new epicenter of the pandemic, with local lawmakers stepping up enforcement on guidelines as a means to slow the spread. While numerous measures are already in place Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said earlier in July that he wanted to take a wait and see approach to the current requirements before considering more. Gimenez did indicate that this could include another countywide stay-at-home order. "We close down five or six businesses on a daily basis," Gimenez said, talking about the upgraded level of enforcement.

There have been more than 145,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed cases have also pushed past 4 million in the U.S.