For a minute there all signs were looking good. People were getting vaccinated and COVID cases were falling, but now, as safety protocols like social distancing and masks are being relaxed cases are on the rise. While the fact is that the majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, no vaccine is perfect, and there are many, including every child under 12, who can't currently be vaccinated. Now the Centers For Disease Control has changed its protocol, recommending that everybody, even the fully vaccinated, wear masks while indoors. Disney has always said that it would follow CDC guidelines, and thus it has followed suit as both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will require all guests to be masked indoors starting Friday July 30.
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort have updated their websites to reflect this new policy. Masks are still optional for all guests while outdoors. The previous policy, the one still in place today, expects unvaccinated people to wear masks while indoors. But anybody who has been to a Disney Park recently knows that very few people are wearing masks anywhere in the park, certainly a smaller percentage than current vaccination rates would indicate is appropriate.
As of now, the change in mask rules is the only update to the policies in either park. Maximum capacity isn't changing and social distancing isn't being reestablished. Events that draw massive crowds, like fireworks, which only returned at the beginning of this month, have not been canceled. As such the parks will still see people gathering together without masks outdoors and will find themselves close together indoors, even though masks will be worn.
While these other policies haven't changed yet, if you're planning a trip to either Disneyland or Disney World anytime soon, you'll want to keep an eye out and plan for any possible changes. While there's no reason to believe other changes will occur in the short term, what this shows is that the situation is changing quickly.
At the same time it would be somewhat difficult to institute social distancing at current park capacity, so doing anything other than simply requiring masks again would likely start a snowball rolling downhill that would be quite a mess. That's not to say it won't happen, but it would likely be a last resort for the parks. And if it truly got there we might see them close again first.
We're only a few weeks from major events surrounding Halloween from getting started at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Things really seemed to get back to normal. While it seems unlikely events like that could be cancelled, they were designed to be limited capacity anyway, they may not be quite the same if this new mask guideline is still in place then.
It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend as the new rules go into effect. Certainly there are guests on property now who were not expecting to need masks. Many may have brought them along any way out of habit or because they were still required on the plane. There are likely others who don't have them at all and will now need to find masks in order to get into the parks.
As of now Disney is the only major theme park company to make this change. Universal Studios in Florida and Hollywood and still going by their existing policy. Unvaccinated guests are asked to wear masks indoors but face coverings are fully optional for the vaccinated.