ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) – Following a state of emergency declaration from Orange County’s mayor, Walt Disney World reinstated an indoor mask policy, effective Friday.
“I think it’s smart, I actually do,” said Julee Jerkovich Loreth, a union representative from the Local United Food and Commercial Workers Union 1625.
Jerkovich Loreth was notified by the Walt Disney Company about the rule change before it was announced to the public Wednesday evening.
It requires everyone over the age of two, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors, throughout attractions, and on Disney transportation.
In mid-June, Disney World, and other central Florida theme parks, dropped their mask mandates when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said vaccinated people did not need to wear masks.
This week, the CDC recommended people in states with “substantial and high” transmission, including Florida, should wear masks indoors.
“We are all about safety in the union. I think my members will feel safer too,” said Jerkovich Loreth.
She represents Disney merchandise workers, tipped catering workers and florists.
Many of them could be required to enforce the updated mask policy with guests.
“I think Disney needs to do a good job with telling people so no one’s surprised about it. My members have backup from the management team in the locations,” she said.
One vacationer from California said Disney made the right call.
“I think wearing the mask is an excellent idea because we’re actually, by wearing the mask, you’re actually saving lives, not only yours but others,” said Blanca Rodriguez.
This decision from Disney came the same day Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings declared a local state of emergency due to rising COVID-19 cases in the area.
On Tuesday, Orange County had 1,371 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of new cases since the pandemic began.
Mayor Demings announced county employees will be required to be vaccinated and urged all residents and visitors to wear masks while indoors.
“We want our residents, business and visitors to follow updated CDC guidelines to make sure there won’t be another shutdown like last year,” said Mayor Demings.
Employees at Universal Orlando Resort will wear masks while working indoors starting Saturday, according to a resort spokesperson.
“The health and safety of our guests and team members is always our top priority,” wrote Alyson Gernert, Universal Orlando spokesperson in a statement. “We encourage all our guests to follow CDC guidelines and local directives to wear face coverings while indoors across our destination.”
They do not require vaccinated guests to wear masks.