To ensure we are equipping our readers with all the information they need, we will continue to report on all travel, safety, and COVID-related news that could impact a Disney Parks visit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to develop, and rules and regulations have changed with it.
Over the past year, mask rules have changed, vaccines have become available to more individuals, and we’ve kept an eye out for updates on COVID-19 numbers in Florida. Recently, the White House announced some new policies when it comes to COVID-19, vaccines, and testing. How could these policies affect your Disney World trip? We’re breaking down what you need to know right here.
What’s Going On?
According to the Associated Press, the White House recently ordered new requirements when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine and testing. The new rules would require that “all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly.”
Specifically, NBC News notes that The White House “asked the Department of Labor to issue an emergency rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative Covid test at least once a week.” According to Reuters, “The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of formulating and enforcing the rule, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.”
Additionally, AP News shares that workers “at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.” And employees of the executive branch of the federal government, as well as contractors who do business with the federal government will be required to be vaccinated.
According to AP News, “despite more than 208 million Americans having at least one dose of the vaccines, the U.S. is seeing about 300% more new COVID-19 infections a day, about two-and-a-half times more hospitalizations, and nearly twice the number of deaths compared to the same time last year.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than 177 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but confirmed cases have shot up in recent weeks to an average of about 140,000 per day with on average about 1,000 deaths.” According to AP News, “Most of the spread — and the vast majority of severe illness and death — is occurring among those not yet fully vaccinated.”
When it comes to airplanes and airports, the mask mandate has already been extended through early 2022. The White House, however, has recently moved to double the federal fines for passengers on airlines who refuse to wear masks during their flights, as well as those who refuse to wear masks on federal property.
The White House has also said it is working to increase the supply of COVID-19 tests and is working with some retailers to sell at-home testing kits at cost.
When it comes to entertainment venues and arenas, the White House is calling on these locations to require vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry.
Additionally, federal officials are reportedly moving forward with plans to administer booster shots of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The booster shots are set to be administered about 8 months after the 2nd dose of the 2-dose vaccines.
How It Could Impact Your Trip
So, how could these new rules and regulations affect your trip?
1 — For Guests Who Are Flying, There Will Be More Severe Penalties For Not Wearing a Mask
As we noted before, there is already a federal mask mandate in place for airports, airlines, trains, train stations, and buses. This mandate is in place through January 18th, 2022.
The White House’s updated rules do not change that. But, the White House has moved to double federal fines for those who refuse to wear masks on flights. If a guest is planning on flying to Disney World, they will encounter and have to follow these mask requirements. Failure to do so could now result in more substantial fines than before.
2 — You May Be Required to Do More Regular Testing or Get Vaccinated Depending on Your Employer
If you are working for a company that will be impacted by the White House’s vaccine or testing requirement (i.e. you work for a company than has more than 100 employees), then you will need to follow any updated requirements from your employer with regards to COVID-19. Under the White House’s plan, this would include vaccination or weekly testing.
If you are not yet vaccinated and plan to be vaccinated in the future to comply with this requirement, you’ll just want to watch out for how the vaccine schedule lines up with any future planned trips. In other words, if you have a trip to Disney World planned and in the middle of that trip you’d be due to receive your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll need to see how to best address that situation.
Alternatively, if you get tested weekly as part of these requirements, you may end up discovering that you have COVID-19 when you otherwise would not have found out (potentially because you are asymptomatic).
If you do end up testing positive for COVID-19 just before your trip, you will likely be restricted from traveling as the airline may require confirmation that you are not positive before allowing you to fly. You will also NOT be able to visit Disney World if you have COVID-19.
Visiting Disney World while positive for COVID-19 would be a violation of their health and safety acknowledgment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you think or know you had COVID-19 and you have symptoms, there are certain recommendations regarding when you can be around others. If you have no symptoms, then there are separate guidelines, which you can see below.
If you know that you will be getting tested for COVID-19 more regularly, a positive COVID-19 test will likely result in the modification of your travel plans. Be sure to read Disney World’s cancellation and modification policies. You may also want to consider purchasing travel insurance to assist with any last-minute cancellation or modification charges.
3 — Disney May Require Testing for Its Guests
Again, according to AP News, the White House has “called for large entertainment venues and arenas to require vaccinations or proof of a negative test for entry.” While it has not specifically been addressed, it stands to reason that Disney World would constitute a “large entertainment venue.”
Disney is already requiring many of its employees to be vaccinated. But, Disney World has not been requiring its guests to be vaccinated or to show a negative COVID-19 test.
In Florida, a law has been passed banning vaccine passports and banning businesses from requiring guests to provide proof of vaccination before serving those guests. Thus, it is likely that Disney World will not be able to require all of its guests to provide proof of vaccination before allowing them to enter the parks.
But, Disney World could require guests to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test in order to enter. This could be done similarly to how the pre-embarkation day COVID test requirement is handled for Disney Cruise Line. Guests could be required to take a negative COVID-19 test at a place of their choosing and upload that information into a website a certain number of days before visiting. The test may be good for a certain number of days, and, depending on the length of their stay, guests may be required to obtain another negative COVID-19 test. Disney could also potentially exempt those who voluntarily show proof of vaccination from testing requirements.
This could require a significant amount of additional work for Cast Members or guests, but it is possible. Other entertainment spaces have required proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination, such as Broadway or certain venues holding indoor events.
Disney has not announced any vaccination or testing requirements for its guests, but it is always good to be on the lookout for any updates ahead of your trip as rules can change rapidly.
4 — Rules Can Change
That leads us to our last point. This is not directly related to the White House announcements, but the announcements do serve as a good reminder that things can change. We’ve seen Disney World change mask rules, distancing rules, and more, sometimes very rapidly.
Depending on how the situation with COVID-19 develops, Disney World could change its rules again, the airports you’re flying through could change their rules, or the airlines you’ll be traveling on could change their rules.
Specifically, at Disney World, the company could implement distancing again, place more limits on capacity, change mask requirements, or change other rules and regulations. The key here is to ensure that you check and see what rules are in place during your visit, as you’ll want to make sure you’re following all updated requirements.
Note that at this time Disney has not announced any vaccination or testing requirements for its guests, nor have they announced any further mask, distancing, or capacity changes.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for updates on this situation and we’ll let you know what we find. Stay tuned for more information.