NEWS: Face Masks No Long Required Outdoors in Florida’s Orange County

Recently, Orange County shared its phased approach for loosening physical distancing and face mask mandates as more county residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Walt Disney World Entrance

Once the county achieved a 50% vaccination rate (with county residents above the age of 16 receiving at least one dose of the vaccine), they would then enter Phase 2.

In a news conference this afternoon, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings shared that as of today, the county has officially reached that 50% vaccination rate, which brings the county into Phase 2.

Source: Florida Department of Health in Orange County

As a reminder, under Phase 2, the following changes in the county’s health mandates are as follows:

  • Outdoor face mask mandate is lifted for all individuals.
  • Continued physical distancing of three feet between groups is encouraged.
  • Face masks will still be required indoors except when eating or drinking.

Since the county’s phased approach was unveiled, the CDC released its updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The guidance states that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear face masks outdoors OR indoors, except in certain situations.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (Frank Weber, Orange County government)

As Mayor Demings describes it, the latest CDC guidelines “nearly mirror the projections” that Orange County has put in place for their phased approach to loosening their mandates, with no inconsistencies between the CDC guideliens and the phased approach taken by the county.

Orange Bird Wall in Disney Springs

Demings then referred to the Biden Administration’s goal that by July 4th, no Americans should be required to wear a facial covering if a high enough vaccination rate is achieved — a near identical goal, according to Demings, that by July 4th, if not before, the county can reach within their community.

Face mask signage is abundant in Disney World so guests know the latest policies.

When asked on the capacity increases in Orlando’s theme parks, Mayor Demings replied, “I was aware that Disney was going to increase capacity and I think that they still are endeavored in following the CDC guidelines and what they’re doing is very responsible.”

Magic Kingdom crowds

The county’s move into Phase 2 could potentially signal another boost in confidence that theme parks like Disney World and Universal Orlando may modify their face mask and physical distancing mandates. Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek shared yesterday that the “guidance that we got from the CDC in terms of those that were vaccinated do not necessarily need to wear masks anymore, both outdoors and indoors is very big news for us.”

©Bloomberg via Getty Images

When you take the latest CDC guidance in combination with Orange County now lifting their outdoor face mask mandates today, we could potentially see an update from Disney World soon, although at this time the resort has not shared any sort of update regarding their face mask mandate. As of this writing, face masks are still required for guests above the age of 2.

Face mask sign at the entrance to Animal Kingdom

Universal Orlando Resort, however, reacted to the news of Orange County entering Phase 2 quite quickly, announcing that face masks would no longer be required outdoors effective May 15th.

Universal Orlando Resort

Looking ahead, Orange County is aiming to achieve a 70% vaccination rate in order to advance to Phase Three, which would lift all physical distancing and face mask mandates, both indoors and outdoors. Phase Three could also be reached when Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is 5% or below.

Orange Bird

We’ll continue to cover the latest news out of Orange County in the coming days and weeks as we learn more about theme parks’ updated policies!

Click here to learn more about the latest CDC guidelines for vaccinated individuals.

Do you live in Central Florida? Let us know in the comments!

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