Universal Orlando has announced significant updates for its Covid-19 mask-wearing protocols for both guests and team members, starting this Saturday, February 12, 2022.
And the big news from Orlando’s extensive Universal resort complex is that masks will, once again, no longer be required for those who are fully vaccinated, while unvaccinated guests are only “encouraged” to wear a face covering at all indoor rides and locations.
This follows a major December 2021 change in policy as the Omicron variant spread rapidly throughout Florida, and most of the theme parks re-introduced mask-wearing policies for their indoor areas, which had been allowed to lapse earlier in the year.
The news first came out via a Universal Orlando message to all team members at noon today (February 11) that revealed the imminent change for those who are fully vaccinated or only partially or non-vaccinated.
The message told vaccinated team members that from February 12, “[You] are not required to wear a facial covering, whether onstage, offstage, indoors, or outdoors – however, [you] may continue to wear a facial covering in any situation if that is your preference.”
For those who remain unvaccinated, “[You] are required to wear a facial covering at all times while on property; practice social distancing whenever possible; [you] may remove the facial covering when alone in a private office, while actively eating and drinking, or back of house outdoors only when able to maintain social distance at all times.”
Shortly after the team member alert, Universal’s media relations office confirmed the changes for guests as well, via email.
It read, “We are updating our policy for face coverings based on local trends and conditions. Fully vaccinated guests will no longer be required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors, effective Saturday, February 12. Guests who have not been vaccinated will be encouraged to wear face coverings while indoors.”
For more information about Universal Orlando’s safety guidelines, visit UniversalOrlando.com.
Universal is the first of Florida’s big theme park resorts to announce a change in this respect.
Walt Disney World had made mask-wearing optional in June 2022, but also reverted to making it a requirement on Disney transport and all indoor areas for guests aged two and up, and for cast members, in December. The company has not announced any further changes so far, and the current policy can be seen on Disneyworld.com.
SeaWorld Orlando had not changed its mask-wearing protocols since earlier in 2021, and leaves the issue of face covering to its guests, just “recommending” that masks be worn indoors.
Florida’s virus infection rate ballooned up to a record 65,000 new cases a day in mid-January this year, but that figure had dropped to around 18,000 a day in the first week of February, while the state’s positivity rate had dropped from almost 40 percent to 18 percent.
Health officials continue to urge people to wear masks in crowded places, especially indoors, as well as encouraging everyone to be fully vaccinated and boosted in an effort to be virus-free.