Disney World Closes Masks Loophole, Bans Eating And Drinking While Walking

It's a small world after all, and getting only smaller if you don't wear your masks at Disney World. The recently reopened theme park had required masks of its guests, but until now, that requirement was lifted when guests were eating and drinking — which became a problem when guests would eat and walk around the park. But now Walt Disney World has closed that loophole, banning the consumption of food and drink while on the move.

Disney World had faced criticism for reopening when coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are spiking in the U.S., with its home state of Florida one of the epicenters of the pandemic's resurgence. A week after the Disney theme park reopened, it's cracking down on its new rules on social distancing, park capacity, and cleaning, particularly the mandate that guests wear masks at all times. Previously, there was a loophole in the masks rule, allowing guests to take off masks while eating and drinking. But after patrons were seen walking throughout the park with food and drink without masks, Disney World is banning the consumption of beverages and food while on the move.

Popular Disney blogs Walt Disney World News Today and Mickey Blog report that guests are now required to remain stationary while drinking or eating. Walt Disney World has also updated its official policy to mark the change. It now states that "you may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing."

Walt Disney World News Today asked an EPCOT cast member about the policy change, who told the outlet, "guests are now being asked to find a safe spot six feet from other guests before removing their masks to eat and drink."

It's a policy change that some Las Vegas casinos have taken as well, to ensure that masks are worn around other guests as much as possible. But could these stricture measures be enough to curb the spread of the pandemic? The U.S. recently surpassed three million total COVID-19 infections, and over 132,000 people have died from the pandemic. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that we're probably only identifying one in 10 new infections.

Disney's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were the first to reopen on Saturday, July 11, followed by Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios on July 15.