Wearing a face mask is required for guests to enter Central Florida’s major theme parks, with one exception — Legoland Florida.
The Polk County theme park reopened on June 1 without a face mask requirement. Like the rest of Florida, the area around Legoland has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases. While there’s no evidence directly linking theme parks to new infections, Polk County is now regularly recording more new cases in a single day than it did in a week back in May.
For the week of May 24-30, Polk County reported 159 new cases. From June 22-28, that number had increased to 1,474. The county is also seeing an increase in its test positive rate — hitting 7.8 percent on Sunday, according to The Ledger — indicating there is increased community spread of the coronavirus, not just increased testing resulting in higher case numbers. Polk County also has the most COVID-19 fatalities in Central Florida with 93.
County officials, however, have said they have no plans to require that people wear face masks in public. Legoland indicated it would not change its own face mask policy in a statement to Theme Park Tribune.
“We are continuing with the procedures that were approved by our local and state governments for our reopening, including the strong encouragement of [mask wearing] for our guests (and continued policy of facial coverings for our employees), which is in line with the CDC’s recommendation,” Legoland Florida spokesperson Kelly Hornick said in an email. “We are also continuing to provide facial coverings to all guests for free upon entry into the parks and/or hotels (and in additional locations upon request) and have kid-friendly, parkwide signage to remind our guests to wear their masks.”
Legoland has implemented other safeguards, including physical distancing reminders and hand sanitizer stations, but it is the only major theme park in Central Florida not to require face masks.
Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay all reopened over the past month with a face mask requirement — and did so before their respective local governments issued orders mandating them in public.
Disney World will also require masks when its theme parks reopen on July 11. Masks are not being required at water parks in the region.
Wearing face masks “could result in a large reduction in risk of infection,” according to an article published in the medical journal The Lancet that reviewed 172 studies on the effectiveness of face masks in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and other coronaviruses.
A separate study published in the journal Health Affairs estimated that at least 230,000 more COVID-19 cases were avoided thanks to states mandating face mask use by May 22, 2020. Florida has yet to institute such an order.
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