As the Biden Administration preparing to share updated CDC policies regarding outdoor face mask wearing for individuals who are fully vaccinated, more discussions are taking place when it comes to the continued effectiveness of face mask wearing in combination with physical distancing.
In an effort to provide more information on the subject, University of Central Florida teamed up with The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) to conduct a study that examined speech and cough events and how far away from the individual droplets and aerosols traveled from those coughs or speaking.
The study, which was published by IAAPA, looked at both speech and cough “events” with individuals wearing no face covering, individuals wearing a cloth face covering, individuals wearing a three-layer face covering, and individuals wearing an N95 face covering.
The study “indicates that 3ft(0.914) physical distancing with face coverings is more effective at reducing aerosol/droplet exposure than 6ft(1.829m) without covering.” So, essentially the study from IAAPA seems to indicate that “three feet of physical distancing with face coverings provides less risk than six feet of physical distancing without masks.”
What does this mean for theme parks like Disney World? Currently, the park’s policies on physical distancing seem to be in step with CDC guidelines. From what we’ve seen in the parks, distancing between parties continues to be six feet in combination with face mask wearing, in accordance with CDC recommendations.
If these findings result in a modification or update from the CDC, it’s possible that we could see a reduction in physical distancing in the parks. However, as of this writing, safe physical distancing is still six feet, and face masks are still required to be worn in the parks.
Back in March, discussions began regarding the possibility of lowering physical distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet, specifically in K-12 schools. With more eligible adults receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s possible that transmission rates could decline, not only from non-pharmaceutical measures like face masks and physical distancing, but from a rise in immunity amongst adults.
Remember that this is one study’s conclusions, and the CDC’s current guidelines still say to “stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.”
With updated CDC guidance on outdoor face mask wearing on the horizon, we’ll keep an eye out for the latest policy changes at the national and local level, in addition to the latest health and safety guidelines from Disney!
Click here to read more about the anticipated announcement on new outdoor face mask guidelines from the Biden Administration.
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Are you planning on visiting Disney World this summer? Let us know in the comments!