Is the Pandemic Over for Disney?

Disney Cruise Line recently modified its safety guidelines. As a result, cruise guests will no longer need to wear masks indoors in most locations.

Disney’s North American pandemic regulations have almost entirely vanished in the wake of this announcement.

Cruise

This leads us to a simple question. Is the pandemic over for Disney? Let’s discuss the matter.

The State of the Pandemic

That’s a nuanced question. The short answer is that the pandemic diminished dramatically in scope.

Disney World vs Disneyland

I’ll use California, whose healthcare statistics I trust, to drive home this point.

In early- to mid-January, the state chronicled a staggering seven-day rolling average of new infections.

California economy reopen

Photo: Getty Images

This total ranged from just under 70,000 on January 7th to a high point of 119,536 later in the month.

Contrast those statistics to mid-December, when the new weekly cases average was under 7,000.

You don’t need to know much about math to understand that going from 7,000 to 119,000 cases per week is terrible. Really bad.

Orange County positive rate

On March 17thCalifornia’s average weekly cases were 3,711.

Again, even the dumbest person you’ve ever met – you know the one – realizes 3,700 is a lot lower than 7,000.

United States Negative COVID Test

In short, the worst has passed. Is that statement permanent? Sadly, no. We’ve all learned the harsh realities of the pandemic.

An outbreak appears as a new strain anyway, and we never know when that will happen.

United States Negative COVID Test

Thankfully, the efficacy of vaccines is staggering from a statistical perspective.

Here are two images from Our World in Data that prove the point:

and…

Those metrics tell Disney something. Unvaccinated guests are nearly 27 times as likely to die from COVID-19 as ones who have taken their boosters.

Also, the vaccines and boosters work. The data is right there in the charge.

Florida vaccine mandates

So, Disney has conversed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and made a decision.

The company has decided that it has protected potential park guests as much as possible.

So now, the onus is on vacationers to take care of their own health.

What Just Happened

Based on this information, Disney has modified its safety regulations. Specifically, it has dropped indoor face-covering requirements.

Here’s the pertinent text from the official site:

“Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests in both outdoor and indoor locations.

We expect guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters.

Face coverings are still required by all Guests (ages 2 and up) on Disney buses and monorails.”

Similarly, Disneyland has published this:

“It is strongly recommended that Guests wear face coverings when indoors.

Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and older), regardless of vaccination status, in certain indoor settings, including Disney shuttles and in health settings, such as in First Aid.

Face coverings are optional for Guests in outdoor areas.”

Based on this information, I would already argue that the pandemic hasn’t ended at Disney theme parks.

You must still wear face masks in specific locations like the buses and monorails at Walt Disney World.

The Happiest Place on Earth requires face-coverings at First Aid as well. If you’ve ever been to a hospital in your life, you understand why.

One of my favorite pictures of my wife is from when she had the flu in 2012. They made her wear a mask to reduce the risk of infecting other patients.

Be Kind Face mask

These rules operated as a courtesy for the health of others and existed long before COVID.

I mean, what’s the prevailing image of a 17th-century plague doctor? Yes, it’s a ridiculous mask.

Still, people haven’t liked wearing masks for the past two years. So Disney’s recent updates have accommodated its customers.

The Final Change

You may recall one of the most memorable moments from early in the pandemic. A cruise ship suffered a severe COVID-19 outbreak.

Since nobody knew what was happening, nobody knew how to proceed.

CDC cruise

Image Credit: ABC

Had non-Disney cruise ships adopted more stringent health measures already, those companies would have avoided much heartache.

Alas, that didn’t happen. As such, the cruise industry suffered mightily during the pandemic.

Cast Members

Photo: Disney Cruise Line

For a time nobody was sure when or even if the cruise industry would recover.

Doesn’t that seem like forever ago? Disney knows that you think so.

2020, Castaway Cay

The company is currently trying to provide a perfectly safe cruise experience that satisfies all guests.

Finding the right approach here hasn’t proven easy. Some guests want more demanding COVID-19 policies in place, while others would rather be there none.

Disney Cruise COVID protocols

Credit: Disney

So, Disney has walked a fine line to satisfy everyone. Here’s where we currently stand:

“Currently, Disney Cruise Line continues to require all vaccine-eligible Guests (based on US eligibility requirements) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the time of sailing .

This is a requirement for all Guests (US and international) ages 5 and older.”

Image Credit: Disney Cruise Line(Matt Stroshane, photographer)

However, Disney Cruise Line also recently modified its face-covering policy. So here’s where we’re at:

“Face coverings are not required for Guests outdoors while onboard the ship and at designated locations on Castaway Cay.

Face coverings are optional in most indoor locations throughout the ship. Guests ages 2 and up, including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will still be required to wear face coverings in the Walt Disney Theatre.

Guests under 5 years of age who are currently ineligible to be vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings in Youth Activity spaces and in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique…”

Disney Cruise Line Youth Clubs have many activities to keep your kids busy

Is the Pandemic Over at Disney?

Friends, you lived through the pandemic. So, you know the deal. Cruises were always sure to be the final place to drop face mask rules.

Disney has done that now, which means we are in a post-pandemic era, at least for now.

CDC cruises

Image Credit: Disney

At the parks, Disney has removed several lingering signs of the pandemic.

For example, hand sanitizer stations are primarily a thing of the past.

Maria & Enzo's

The barriers that protected cast members from guests are coming down at Disney stores across the parks.

At this point, you’ll struggle to find visual reminders of the pandemic, and that’s by design.

You want to forget all your worries at the Most Magical Place on Earth. So, all the stressful signs of the past two years have left Disney.

Now, they could return at a moment’s notice. If you don’t know, I genuinely hate to inform you that Hong Kong is currently experiencing an outbreak.

Coronavirus Hong Kong Shanghai China

Thankfully, the variant driving the health problems is Omicron, which Americans have already weathered.

As such, I have no reason at the moment to believe that another outbreak is in the offing.

Until that changes, Disney has chosen to treat the pandemic as over. For that, we’re all grateful.

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