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Walt Disney World masks

Walt Disney World is now open for business and at least anecdotally, it seems like the new policies of face coverings and social distancing, along with the necessary reduced capacity, are doing their jobs and people are following the rules. However, the resort has now clarified a face-covering policy that has closed a loophole that could have seen many guests without face coverings walking the park. Guests who are actively eating are drinking food in the parks are being specifically asked to remain stationary while doing so.

Signs were seen going up in the park over the weekend and the policy is now spelled out clearly on the Walt Disney World website...

You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.

This answers a very specific question that I had prior to the opening of the parks. Food is a huge part of the Walt Disney World experience, and it is everywhere. In addition to the table service and counter service restaurants, you can't go more than about 30 paces before walking into a food cart with popcorn, ice cream, churros, or whatever else. It's not unreasonable to remove your mask while eating, but the fact is that you could potentially have a piece of food or a drink in your hands constantly while roaming Magic Kingdom, making the mask requirement basically meaningless.

And there have been cases where it seemed in some places people were abusing the food loophole. By simply carrying a drink in one's hand you could give the impression you were consuming food and thus avoid the mask, even if you weren't really actively drinking. You could carry am empty cup if it was opaque and achieve the same thing.

Of course, while the rule might now be more clear, that doesn't mean that enforcing the new rule is going to be all that simple. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival began on July 15, the same day that specific park reopened, and while the incredibly popular festival is paired down from what it has been in the past, it adds to the number of food locations found in the park, and with seating for eating also reduced to allow for social distancing, it means that simply finding a spot to be stationary and eat your food could prove challenging.

While the rule makes perfect sense under the circumstances, that doesn't make it less annoying. Certainly, walking down Main Street U.S.A. with your bag of popcorn in hand is part of the fun of eating the popcorn usually. And with so much stuff to do and see in the park, most of us have someplace that we're usually headed when we're eating and walking. Stopping to eat a snack is simply going to mean a lot more time standing in one place than most of us usually spend while inside Walt Disney World. But if that's the trade we have to make in order to be at Disney World in the first place, it's worth it.

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