Disney changes mask policy to ban eating and drinking while walking

The snack loophole has been closed. Less than 10 days after reopening, Disney World has had to update its face mask policy to close a glaring loophole: Patrons are now explicitly required to stay in place and away from others if they remove their mask to eat. “Please bring your own face coverings and wear …

The snack loophole has been closed.

Less than 10 days after reopening, Disney World has had to update its face mask policy to close a glaring loophole: Patrons are now explicitly required to stay in place and away from others if they remove their mask to eat.

“Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming,” Disney World’s official policy stated, now updated to clarify that “you may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.”

Disney Parks blog Walt Disney World News Today asked a Disney cast member at the Epcot park about the new rule this weekend and was told “guests are now being asked to find a safe spot six feet from other guests before removing their masks to eat and drink.”

If guests do not wear a face mask, the blog reported, they will be asked to put one on or leave.

Guests walk through Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Thursday.Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

Disney has strict definitions for what constitutes a face mask, which excludes “open-chin triangle bandanas,” as well as costume masks and “neck gaiters.” Guests who want to remove their mask and are not safely eating or swimming can seek out a “Relaxation Station,” where they can have a socially distanced, mask-free rest.

All four of Disney’s Florida parks are now open, including Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, with limited capacity and safety protocols in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The new protocols give the “happiest place on Earth” a significantly different, much more surreal atmosphere, visitors have noticed.

A video uploaded to the Disney Parks Jobs Instagram celebrating the parks’ reopening with a “Welcome home” message was widely mocked and parodied on social media.

While the Orlando amusement resorts remain reopened for now — despite Florida reporting record daily coronavirus death rates — Disney’s parks and movie studios won’t fully rebound from the pandemic for at least a year, a Wall Street analyst predicted.

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