Universal Orlando reinstates mask rule as COVID cases rise

Walker Baker, 5, of Hagerstown, Md., visits with Santa Claus, portrayed by volunteer Wayne Hutzell, of Williamsport, Md., during Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree event for children of the incarcerated, Sunday Dec. 19, 2021 at Hub City Vineyard church in Hagerstown. The Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree is expected to deliver gifts to about 300,000 kids nationwide this year. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
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Associated Press

ORLANDO (AP) — Universal Orlando is reinstating its mask requirements beginning Christmas Eve as COVID-19 cases are surging as a result of the omicron variant.

Daily cases of coronavirus have quadrupled in the past week in the state of Florida, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations have increased by 12%, the CDC says.

But one of the largest hospital networks in Miami, Jackson Health, has reported twice as many COVID-19 patients on Thursday than it had a week ago.

Universal Orlando says masks will be required at all public indoor locations and at all attractions from the moment guests enter the lines to when they leave. A lot of lines for rides and shows in the resort theme parks start in outdoor areas.

The resort has seen a busy holiday season with popular rides this week reporting waits of up to three hours.

The requirements will be for guests and employees regardless of vaccination status and will cover restaurants, shops, and indoor hotel public areas.

Walt Disney World earlier this year relaxed its face covering rules to require them only indoors, and has not announced any decision to revise their policy.