The end of the pandemic is (almost) here...
As of today, May 28th, 2021, Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida has finally dropped its mask mandate at its theme parks and resorts. Meanwhile, parkgoers won't need to provide proof of vaccination in order to go mask-free, meaning they'll be going on an honor system.
The company announced today that patrons who have been vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks in the parks and resorts, saying, "The health and safety of our guests and team members remains our top priority as we continue our thoughtful return to regular operations."
Formerly, guests could temporarily remove their masks while maintaining the standard social distance of six feet, but only to address and greet characters and to eat. The old policy stated that guests could not remove their masks indoors for any reason, including smiling for big, toothy smiles.
The park is putting the responsibility to look after their own safety squarely on parkgoers' shoulders, saying, "While we do not require proof of vaccination, we do expect those who are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings while indoors."
The park's new updated rules ask the public to observe the CDC guidelines for their own sake, saying:
Please note the CDC advises that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Guests should evaluate their risk in determining whether to attend. People who show no symptoms can spread COVID-19 if they are infected, any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit.
They reiterated that they are committed to keeping the park clean and practicing the same sanitation standards as before while encouraging the guests of the park to observe social distancing guidelines at all times.
The long-running mask debate has been going on since last year, along with the debate about vaccinations, and it's a contentious issue across the state of Florida, with mask protests still going on in schools to this day. Health officials, politicians, and residents as well have debated the virtues and vices of such policies, especially in terms of how they relate to children who are still forming their conception of the world.
State and local governments have also battled, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed executive orders and legislation that ban local governments from implementing mandatory mask policies, while local governments have fought back by continuing to do so.
Governor DeSantis also signed a series of bills and executive orders that banned so-called "vaccine passports," or, in other words, making it so private businesses cannot ask for proof of vaccination status in order to engage in commerce with them.
The vaccine passports ban essentially makes it illegal for private businesses to require proof of vaccination before patrons enter their premises. And this extends to educational institutions as well.
Schools can't require proof of vaccination in order for the students to attend.
The pandemic is wrapping up in Florida, and it sure feels good to have finally arrived here.