Disney parks are opening around the world, and health and safety measures are mandatory at this time to keep guests and employees safe. But one that seems standard across many entertainment venues, including Disney properties, is temperature screening.
So, if we’re going to get our temperatures taken a whole bunch as things reopen, we’re wondering — what exactly is the science behind these temperature checks? Are they legitimately giving true data, or are they all for show?
Why is Disney using temperature checks?
Let’s start with the basics: what factors are making temperature checks such a ubiquitous measure? To start, safety is a priority for Disney and other companies. And due to the global health crisis, safety is more difficult to guarantee.
Until a mass-produced, quick, and reliable method of detecting this illness is present, temperature checks are likely going to be the top choice for large venues.
According to Health, government and health officials maintain that temperature checks are an important piece of a much wider strategy in preventing the spread of illness. That is to say, checks won’t stop the spread or keep people safe alone, but with other health measures, they could help.
Temperature checks, then, help to keep sick individuals out of contact with others. This means that folks in the venue might be able to stay healthy and as a result, they may feel a whole lot safer knowing that no one with a fever is walking around.
BUT, as a number of our readers have pointed out, body temperature is not always a reliable indicator of illness. So with temp checks becoming more commonplace now, how do these touchless thermometers work?
How do they work?
Disneyland Shanghai is using a much more efficient method with thermal cameras. This allows the set-up of a big walkthrough area that displays the temperature of each guest passing through. A Cast Member is stationed to review temperatures as guests enter the park.
According to NPR, both of these devices capture the infrared energy coming off of the body and translate that energy into a temperature reading. Did you know that human skin is a super-efficient producer of infrared energy? Some no-touch thermometers can even match an oral reading within two-tenths of a degree — that’s pretty accurate!
Venues are generally determining the maximum temperature that guests and employees can have to be allowed to enter. For both Universal Studios and Disney Properties, that maximum is 100.4 degrees. If you’re a touch warmer than that, you won’t be getting in.
Are they foolproof?
You’re probably not surprised to find out that these temperature checks are NOT foolproof. The infrared thermometers work best with dry skin and draft-free rooms. If someone is sweating or happened to stand in a windy area, they may register a normal temperature even if they have a fever, per NPR.
Beyond that, some guests may, unfortunately, attempt to trick the thermometers intentionally. Aspirin and other pain relievers have fever-reducing effects that can mask a higher temperature. Instagram users in Shanghai have even been sharing tips to lower their temperatures as they head to Disneyland.
On top of that, these thermometers only keep out people with fevers. According to Health, Some people who are ill are completely asymptomatic or they don’t register fever as a symptom. These folks could be unaware that they are sick or not think that their symptoms warrant any alarm. A thermometer won’t stop them from being around others.
So no thermometer is perfect, but health officials still say that these screenings are the best bet for venues to isolate people who may not know that they’re sick.
Will temperature checks be a permanent feature?
So, now that we know how temperature checks work, will they be a permanent addition to our theme park and leisure experiences? It’s hard to say! They may only need to be a measure until the advent of a vaccine, case numbers drop and stabalize, or until rapid testing kits are readily available, or they might stick around for a while.
However, some (including Disney Chairman Bob Iger) think that this crisis will change what allows people to feel comfortable in theme parks and out and about in general. Iger asserted that temperature checks could become as common as security measures like bag checks after 9/11, as people expect a higher level of health awareness.
After all, 70% of readers we polled are on board with the idea of temperature checks at the park gates.
For now, as long as businesses are beginning to reopen and people wish to patronize them, temperature checks are one of the better options available at this time to identify ill guests.
How do you feel about temperature checks in Disney World? Tell us in the comments!