ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – On Wednesday the state recorded more than twenty thousand new cases of COVID-19, the biggest single day increase since Labor day.
Universal Orlando Resort had an announcement of their own – all guests and employees must wear mask when indoors – regardless of vaccination status.
Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond says when COVID-19 cases and restrictions are up, that means tourism dollars are going to go down.
Some doctors are also suggesting going back to what they call “COVID normal”. Conditions that require people to wear a mask and social distance regularly.
After spending the day at Universal Studios, Daniel Steelson, who’s is visiting from the U.K., says when it comes to the Coronavirus – the theme park is like the world. “Some people are aware of it,” Daniel Steelson says on his way to dinner. “Others are either not aware or not bothered.”
With the recent surge in Coronavirus Omicron cases, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond admits it's a simple equation to keep money rolling in to Central Florida. “Best thing we can do for the economy, best thing we can do for jobs, is get the Covid under control,” Diamond begins to explain. “That means testing, that means vaccines, that means keeping people healthy, get the positivity rate down, and once you get that down you will get tourism back up.”
Before the pandemic, 2019 was a record year for Orange County, collecting nearly $300 million in tourism development tax dollars. This year’s total will likely be over a hundred million under that record year.
With Universal Resorts now calling for masks to be on in all indoor areas, pediatrician Dr. Mohammad Afzal says this could only be the beginning of restrictions coming back. “This might continue for the next few months, we will have to see how things are going on,” Dr. Afzal says. “Especially in winter, when most people are indoors. People are traveling also and getting together for the holidays.”
The Steelson’s, who are fully vaccinated, will not be at Universal this Friday for the mandate, but will be on a cruise with a similar one. “They have told us that unless you are deliberately eating or drinking anything indoors will need a mask,” Steelson says.
This Friday, all guests and employees will be required to wear a mask at all public indoor locations within Universal Orlando Resort, regardless of vaccination status.
Spectrum News 13 did reach out to the governor’s office for comment on this mandate put in place by Universal. They did send a response that read in part: It’s not against Florida law for a business to have a mask policy. Government entities cannot enforce mask mandates.