Disney Parks have seen a lot of changes and regulations introduced since their phased reopenings during the pandemic.
Now, it seems one of these regulations will be staying longer than planned due to the new Omicron strain of COVID-19.
Today, the Biden administration confirmed that the nation’s transportation face mask mandate — which includes modes of transit like airplanes, trains, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort buses, ferries, Monorail trains, and Skyliner gondolas — will be extended until at least March 18, 2022.
Throughout the pandemic, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have all abided by federal mask requirements and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) face mask guidelines.
Major travel destinations including the European Union, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada have moved to block flights from African countries following the discovery of the Omicron variant, echoing previous emergency responses that triggered a global freeze on travel.
As well as extending the mask mandate, The White House is once again tightening travel rules to and within the United States, requiring all inbound international passengers to test for COVID-19 within 24 hours of departure.
The changes were announced as part of the reaction to the Omicron strain as the world enters the third year of the pandemic. The U.S. confirmed its first case of the variant this week in Northern California.
The stricter pre-departure testing protocols will apply to all inbound international travelers regardless of vaccination status and will begin as early as next week.
Previously, the U.S. required proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure, though this was tightened to only vaccinated travelers last month. Unvaccinated travelers had to have a negative COVID test within one day of departure.
Fines for the mask mandate will start at $500 and go up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
A senior administration official told CNBC:
“Our doctors believe tightening testing requirements for pre-departure will help catch more cases, potential cases of people who may be positive and inside the country. And so now is the right time to do it. And we can implement it very quickly.”
COVID cases and positivity rates are currently dropping in both Florida and California, with both theme park Resorts now allowing Guests to remove their masks while outdoors, but while inside, they must keep them on at all times unless actively eating or drinking.