Disney Stock – Disney World To Require Masks Despite FL Governor Ending Mandates
ORLANDO, FL — Despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order ending all local coronavirus emergency orders, Disney World officials said the theme park will continue to mandate that park visitors wear masks and observe and other coronavirus safety protocols.
On Monday, DeSantis signed executive order 21-102 suspending all local emergency orders until July 1 when Senate Bill 2006 takes effect, which permanently invalidates all emergency orders.
“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown governors,” DeSantis said during a news conference in St. Petersburg. “This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses.”
DeSantis cited lower statewide coronavirus positivity rates and the effectiveness of vaccines as reasons for nullifying the local mandates, saying that continuing to order people to wear masks would undermine public confidence in vaccines.
“These extraordinary measures at this point are not justifiable,” DeSantis said.
While DeSantis’ announcement lifts coronavirus restrictions mandated by local government, it does not preclude businesses from keeping restrictions in place.
For the time being, Disney World said that’s just what it plans to do. The theme park said it will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health and safety guidelines, which recommend the continued use of face masks despite the growing number of people who have been vaccinated.
“We are aware of the state of Florida’s plans to modify COVID-19 guidelines,” Disney World said in a statement issued after the governor’s announcement. “We will evaluate this latest guidance and maintain our current health and safety measures at this time, including face covering requirements. We will continue to make thoughtful adjustments to our policy. As COVID-19 vaccines become available, we encourage people to get vaccinated.”
Universal Orlando said it will continue to operate under its existing protocols, which include mandatory face masks and social distancing.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens hasn’t released a statement reacting to the governor’s announcement. However, the theme parks’ websites continue to list face masks as a requirement.
Local and county government officials around the state said they were taken aback by DeSantis’ announcement that he was suspending all local emergency orders.
Pinellas County immediately posted a notice to residents that face mask mandates inside shops, restaurants and other buildings that are open to the public were automatically suspended by DeSantis’ order.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Commission said, while the governor’s order means the county’s indoor mask mandate and restrictions aimed at reducing overcrowding in bars and nightclubs are no longer in effect, commissioners noted that business owners still have the option of adopting their own face covering requirements.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a staunch supporter of face mask mandates, said she was offended that DeSantis would announce the suspension of all local restrictions without first conferring with the government officials who put the restrictions in place.
“The best decisions are made by local authorities who are closest to the unique health and welfare needs of our communities,” she said. “We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and encourage all of our residents to get vaccinated so that we can safely return to a sense of normalcy.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman called the governor’s declaration “hypocritical.” While DeSantis complains about federal mandates, he has no qualms about imposing statewide mandates, Kriseman said.
“The legislature shouldn’t tell local government what to do. We know our cities and counties better than they do,” Kriseman said.
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Patch Editor Skyla Luckey contributed to this story.