The nation is slowly recovering, thankfully, in the near-wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as statistics begin to taper off and government officials look to reopen the nation’s businesses, including Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.
Today, President Trump unveiled new guidelines to help states reopen their businesses in phases through the easing of social distancing restrictions. The guidelines still put a heavy emphasis on continuing stringent hygiene practices like hand washing and using face masks in public. Employers should still enact social distancing, temperature checks, testing and sanitation practices in their workplaces. Large venues, including some restaurants, can operate under strict social distancing protocols. Bars, however, must remain shuttered for now.
The guidelines target May 1 as the day to begin the process of reopening the country. Ultimately, these guidelines aren’t mandatory and decisions on when and how to open will fall upon each individual state.
Across Walt Disney World, essential workers are already using face masks while carrying out necessary maintenance throughout the parks. It’s unknown whether guests will be encouraged to wear them as well upon reopening. With regards to temperature checks, Bob Iger recently commented in an interview with Barron’s that temperature checks were just one example of methods they might implement to help guests feel safer and more at ease. As far as social distancing goes, Walt Disney World may well be considered a “large venue” (or rather, a collection of large venues), and while certain areas of the parks may be allowed to open, other areas, such as bars or amphitheaters (such as the viewing location of Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) may not reopen for some time.
The reopening plan is set up in three phases, with May 1 being the first date states can choose to move forward with Phase 1. This would require two weeks of a sustained drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Under Phase One, it seems unlikely that Walt Disney World would open unless it chooses to do so in phases, with a select limited number of parks, restaurants, and attractions open in order to operate under the required strict physical distancing protocols.
Moving to Phase Two would require another two weeks of a sustained drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
It isn’t until the state enters Phase Two that we’d imagine the parks could truly reopen, with Non-Essential Travel now resuming at this time, as well as moderate social distancing. Under Phase Two, bars can reopen as well, albeit under diminished standing-room occupancy only. Phase Three would be considered a “return to normal”.
The current federal guidelines on social distancing are not expected to be renewed when they expire on April 30. Officials said the White House would work closely with states to ensure reopening efforts are done safely and only when local outbreaks are deemed contained.
You can read the full “Opening Up America Again” Guidelines in PDF form here.
We’ll continue to update this post as further information is announcced during the ongoing White House press conference.