Guests will longer be required to wear a face mask in indoor spaces or on rides at Universal Orlando starting February 12.
The change is “based on local trends and conditions,” Universal said in a message Friday. While COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in Orange County, Florida have declined since the peak of the omicron surge last month, hospitalizations are still well above their pre-omicron levels and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends people wear masks in public based on the county’s 18.5 percent test positivity rate, well above the 10 percent threshold considered to be “high” community transmission.
Universal had ended its indoor mask mandate starting May 29, 2021, switching to a policy that “encouraged” unvaccinated guests to stay masked without checking any guests’ vaccination status. Though Disney World reinstated the indoor mask requirement during the delta variant surge in July 2021, Universal did not follow suit, only bringing back masks on Dec. 24 amid a wave of new COVID-19 cases caused by the more transmissible omicron variant.
The resort will now revert to its old policy, where “guests who have not been vaccinated will be encouraged to wear face coverings while indoors.”
For Universal team members, vaccinated employees will no longer be required to wear a face covering, though a message to workers said they “may continue to wear a facial covering in any situation if that is your preference.” Unvaccinated workers, however, will still have to wear face masks “at all times while on property,” according to Universal, with exceptions when they’re in a private office, actively eating or drinking, or in an outdoor area away from guests.
The resort recently ditched a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.
Universal did not respond to a request for comment from Theme Park Tribune.