As the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines continues to develop, we’ve seen quite a few changes made in terms of mask guidance and rules.
In Orange County, Florida, the county where part of Walt Disney World is located, there is a mask mandate in place. The Orange County Mayor has recently indicated that changes regarding the mask mandate and social distancing rules may be coming this summer, and now we’ve got some important updates.
Earlier today, Mayor Demings of Orange County, Florida, announced changes to some of Orange County’s mask and distancing guidelines during a press conference. These new rules will become effective in phases based on different vaccination levels in the county. Here’s a breakdown:
Phase 1 of these updated policies becomes effective IMMEDIATELY.
Under Phase 1, physical distancing may be reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet in all settings. Fully vaccinated individuals should, however, to continue to follow CDC guidelines regarding wearing facial coverings.
According to the latest data from Mayor Demmings, approximately 43.4% of eligible Orange County, Florida residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines so far.
Phase 2 is expected to become effective when 50% of the Orange County, Florida population age 16+ has received the first dose of their vaccine.
At that point, the following policies will become effective:
- The face covering mandate for the outdoors will be lifted for all individuals
- Physical distancing of at least 3 feet between groups will be “encouraged”
- Facial coverings will still be required indoors, except when eating or drinking
Keep in mind, this phase will only begin when the county reaches that 50% vaccination mark. Mayor Demings said that Dr. Raul Pino, Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, has indicated that the 50% could be reached in the next 3 weeks. But, things could change.
Phase 3 is expected to begin in Orange County, Florida when 70% of the Orange County, Florida population ages 16 or older have received their first dose of the vaccine and/or Orange County’s 14-day rolling COVID-19 positivity rate is 5% or below.
At that point, ALL mandates in Orange County, Florida will be lifted.
According to Mayor Demings, the 14-day rolling COVID-19 positivity date yesterday was 8%.
Mayor Demings said he is making this announcement with caution and doesn’t want residents to become complacent. In terms of further guidance, Mayor Demings noted that if it is unknown if a person is fully vaccinated or not, you should assume they are NOT vaccinated and take appropriate precautions.
When it comes to theme parks, Mayor Demings said they have spoken to the theme parks and he believes they will make some adjustments, but that those adjustments will be focused on keeping their guests safe. He also noted that they would likely be able to increase capacity.
Keep in mind that the CDC does note that fully vaccinated individuals can gather or conduct some activities OUTDOORS without wearing a mask. But, the CDC’s guidelines also note that fully vaccinated individuals (as well as unvaccinated individuals) should still wear a mask when in a crowded, outdoor event like a live performance, parade, or sports event.
At this time, Disney World has not announced any updates or changes to their mask policy. For the time being, masks continue to be required throughout all of Disney World at all times for all guests ages 2 and up (including those who have been vaccinated) unless specifically allowed to be removed.
Guests are allowed to remove their masks when swimming, when actively eating or drinking while socially distanced from others and stationary, or while at a mask-free relaxation station. Masks may also be removed temporarily when taking an outdoor photo while distanced from others and stationary.
At the moment, Disney World’s website also still indicates that guests should maintain 6 feet of social distancing between them.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more details on any future changes as to mask or social distancing policies.