The only thing worse than someone chewing on a meal with their mouth open is when someone infected with coronavirus does this, while walking past you, at Walt Disney World.
That's why Disney executives closed a loophole at its four Orlando parks this past weekend, one that had allowed eat-walking tourists to roam mask-free, as long as they were chomping while clomping.
On Saturday, park-watcher blogs lit up with excited shares of reports that guests would no longer be able to defy mask orders while walking, just by biting into a jumbo turkey leg.
Disney learned that some guests were using the loophole as an excuse to disregard the requirement for facial coverings, a particularly shitty thing to do while Florida's new coronavirus infection rates are still skyrocketing.
Disney's park rules for face coverings on guests ages two and up now includes some additional clarification, and they say they will kick out violators from the park.
"Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming," say the amended rules. "You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing."
That means it's masks-on while you're in the resorts, hotel common areas, theme park sidewalks, while riding on vehicles, and at Disney Springs. When guests get hungry or thirsty, they must now stop moving and be seated or standing.
WDW News Today asked an Epcot cast members to clarify the rule tweak, and were told, "guests are now being asked to find a safe spot six feet from other guests before removing their masks to eat and drink."
Guests may not resume walking until they stop eating and put their mask back on. They can also still visit the "relaxation stations" in all four parks, where guests can remove their masks and take a few deep breaths without consuming anything, as long as they, too, are seated a relatively safe distance apart. The notice states that neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings. Costume masks are also not allowed to be worn, a longstanding rule from before the pandemic.
The mask-free eat-walking loophole had been a pet peeve of bloggers and journalists, including theme-park writer Carlie Wisel, who turned away from a July 11 attempt to visit the Magic Kingdom, when faced with lines of largely mask-free crowds outside. The sight of people incautiously eating in close proximity seemed to intensify the uneasiness of the reopening.
"This is not good, this is too many people in too tight of a space," Wisel said into her phone camera. "This is not good. This is not good."
This article first appeared at Orlando Weekly.
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