Disney Drops All Mask Requirements
A federal court ruling in Florida has caused some fascinating ripple effects across the entire tourism industry.
Most importantly, Walt Disney World has dropped all its face-covering requirements, probably once and for all. So let’s discuss what just happened.
The Court Ruling
I’ve spent the entire pandemic trying not to discuss politics, but the subject’s unavoidable sometimes.
To wit, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of the previous Presidential administration, just ruled against a vital component of the current one.
The ruling declared that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had exceeded its statutory authority.
Just last week, this same group had extended the requirement for face-coverings on commercial flights through May 3rd at a minimum.
This ruling negates that policy and effectively eliminates the final significant mask mandate in place in this country.
Your or my evaluation of this ruling borders on irrelevant here. We’re not in a position to make or rule on laws.
Instead, what we can say with confidence is that, barring a legal challenge from the current administration, this ruling will stand for the time being.
You may know that the northeast is currently experiencing another outbreak due to the BA.2 omicron subvariant.
Should that wave prove as overwhelming as the one at the end of 2021, I presume a federal challenge of Judge Mizelle’s ruling would occur.
Given the current composition of the Supreme Court, I’m dubious anything would change, though.
As such, I think it’s safe to assume that Americans are done with face mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Disney and Travel Impact
The ripple effects of this ruling started immediately. I’m not even joking. People on planes learned in mid-flight that they could remove their masks.
Pilots and flight attendants not only allowed but even encouraged this in some instances. The relief of such employees was palpable, at least for the day.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) decided it would not enforce mask mandates in light of the ruling.
That’s something that the current administration has confirmed.
As long as the status quo holds – and we’re all praying it will – the era of travel mask requirements is over.
So, you won’t need to wear a mask during your next flight to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Aulani.
That’s only part of the conversation, though. Walt Disney World officials have taken the announcement seriously.
Until April 19th, mask requirements remained in place on Disney buses and monorails.
Admittedly, not every cast member enforced those rules, but they had remained in place.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Disney dropped its face-covering rules completely.
You no longer need to wear one anywhere during a park visit. As such, this strange time in Disney history has officially come to an end.
Disney has also updated the official website to acknowledge these changes.
Simultaneously, park officials have stressed that unvaccinated guests should wear masks indoors. That’s also the philosophy of the current administration.
Simply stated, if you feel safer wearing a mask, you have the right and Disney’s blessing to do so. If you don’t want to wear one, that’s the law now.
Two years, one month, and one day after Rudy Gobert touched some microphones and Tom Hanks caught COVID, the pandemic has ended, at least at Disney.
Our long, strange ride has ended, my friends. We made it!
After I finished this update and sent it to my editor, the New York Times posted this article.
The gist is that the federal government will appeal the decision if and only if the CDC decides it needs to extend the transportation mandate again.
Currently, that decision appears quite unlikely. It would only change in the event of an outbreak, which is the only scenario where an appeal appears necessary anyway.
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