Legoland Florida has changed its policies on face masks, now requiring guests 8 years and older to wear masks on rides and inside the park’s indoor areas. 

Until now, Legoland was the only major theme park in Central Florida not to require face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19. Instead, it only recommended their use and provided free masks to guests. The change in policy was the result of the city of Winter Haven, Florida passing an emergency ordinance on face masks Monday.

Legoland Florida spokesperson Kelly Hornick said in an emailed statement to Theme Park Tribune:

“Effective this evening, Tuesday, July 14, at 5 p.m. face masks or facial coverings will be required for all guests eight years of age and older on all Theme Park rides and inside all indoor areas at Legoland Florida Resort, in accordance with the emergency ordinance set forth by the City of Winter Haven. Inside areas include indoor attractions, restrooms, changing rooms, theaters and restaurants when not actively eating. All guests eight years of age and older will be required to have a mask to enter the Park, Water Park and Hotels, and they are encouraged to bring their own facial coverings from home. Legoland Florida Resort will continue to provide complimentary masks, including kid-sized masks, to guests who do not bring one from home.” 

The Winter Haven ordinance came after the Polk County Commission rejected a mask mandate earlier this month. Commission chairman Bill Braswell told The Ledger that the decision was because there was no scientific consensus on the effectiveness of cloth masks. He also speculated, without evidence, that “Maybe masks are the reason for the increase” of COVID-19 cases in the county. Braswell later claimed he was joking. 

In fact, there is growing scientific evidence that face masks are effective in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A review of existing studies published in June in the medical journal The Lancet found that face mask use “could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.” 

Polk County reported 252 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, along with 10 new deaths, the first time the county death toll has hit double digits. 2,210 cases have been reported over the last seven days and the county’s positive test rate has averaged 15.9 percent since June 30.

The Winter Haven mask ordinance does have compliance requirements for businesses in the city such as Legoland. The park will have post signage about the face mask requirement, require employees to wear masks and make a “reasonable effort” to get customers to wear a mask, “which can include asking them to wear said face covering,” according to the ordinance.

The mask rule at Legoland and in Winter Haven fall short of recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. CDC guidance states that “all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings” — a standard adopted by other Florida theme parks include Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.

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