IAPPA and The University of Central Florida (UCF) have undergone an extensive study named "Experimental and Numerical Evaluations of Masks and their Ability to Safely Reduce Social Distancing". The report aims to evaluate whether the 6ft recommendation for social distancing could be reduced whilst still keeping people safe from spreading COVID-19.
Since Walt Disney World reopened back in July 2020 after almost three months of closure, the 6ft social distancing measure has been in place which has restricted the capacity at the parks. Currently, Walt Disney World is capped at 35% in order to follow the recommended 6ft safety guidelines issued for social distancing by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With the COVID-19 vaccination program in full flow, many theme park fans have wondered when the capacity will rise, giving more people the opportunity to book tickets. Demand for tickets to Walt Disney World appears to be high as the Parks Reservation System shows at least one park is fully booked every day until July.
The six feet social distancing requirement has a significant impact on capacity, queue lines, attraction loading and food and drinks locations at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and all other theme parks around the US and the world.
Results of Report
The research aimed to measure the distance the droplets travel when people talk and cough in three scenarios, without face covering, with cotton cloth face covering and with a three-layer disposable face covering.
Interestingly, the study found that a cough without a face covering traveled a maximum of 4.5ft in comparison to 2.22ft with a cloth face covering and with a three-layer disposable face-covering the distance was reduced to 0.5ft.
The report sums up that a recommendation of 3ft for social distancing whilst wearing a mask should be as effective in keeping people as safe as possible from spreading COVID-19 than the current 6ft recommendation.
Some may argue that if droplets from a cough can travel a maximum of 4.5ft then perhaps mandatory mask wearing could be lifted in outdoor areas of theme parks where those particles can be more easily dissipated?
The CDC has just announced that they Continue to Recommend Outdoor Mask-Wearing at Theme Parks even though they stated that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can participate in outdoor activities without a face mask, even when around small groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The difference is the amount of people there are. As theme parks are crowded places the mask recommendation remains in place regardless of whether someone is fully vaccinated or not.
We heard earlier this week that Cedar Point had updated its health and safety policies to state that masks would only be required in indoor spaces, when not actively eating and drinking. So, this means that masks will not be required in outdoor spaces, including queues, eating areas, and on rides. Cedar Point said via social media that masks are not required on rides, either indoor or outdoor, and are simply "recommended". For many this has come as quite a shock.
Based on the latest recommendations from the CDC we are assuming that Walt Disney World, and Universal Orlando will keep their current mandatory mask rule in place for the foreseeable future, even as guests can now remove masks in outdoor areas to take photos, provided they are stationary and maintain appropriate social distance. This is definitely a step in the right direction for those theme park fans that are eagerly awaiting to return to the parks without having to wear a mask.
Setting the issue of mask wearing aside, there is hope that social distancing recommendations will be able to be lowered as vaccinations increase and therefore we should hopefully see capacity increasing at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and beyond as we head into the summer months.
Let us know what you think about these social distancing findings by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.