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Universal Orlando to reinstate mask policy on Christmas Eve amid Omicron surge

Universal Orlando to reinstate mask policy on Christmas Eve amid Omicron surge
Universal Orlando Resort’s seventh hotel -- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort -- Surfside Inn and Suites is shown. File Photo Courtesy Universal Parks and Resorts

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Amid the surge of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, Universal Orlando said it will reinstate its mask policy, starting on Christmas Eve.

The theme park announced the move as an update to its safety guidelines on its website.

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According to the update, the face coverings will be required at all restaurants, shops, indoor hotel public areas and all attractions.

The company does not require proof of vaccinations, but said in the update its remains "focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards."

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Universal Orlando also requires all guests to self-affirm they are not feeling sick, have not been in contact with someone who has known or suspected COVID-19 symptoms, and they are not under any self-quarantine orders, before visiting.

The safety guidelines apply regardless of vaccination status.

When Universal Orlando started reopening process to limited guests in its free-admission CityWalk area, featuring the Hard Rock Cafe, Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom and other restaurants and shops, last year, it required masks and temperature checks.

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Since late May, vaccinated guests have not been required to wear masks indoors, and in July, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on masks, Universal said it would "encourage" visitors to wear them indoors, but not require it, Spectrum News 13 reported.

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Disney World has already required guests ages 2 and older to wear face masks indoors, News 13 noted.

Several cruise lines have also recently announced mask requirements amid the Omicron surge.

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The reinstatement of the mask policy at Universal Orlando has resulted in divided opinions, WESH.com reported.

"It's keeping everybody safe with the new [Omicron] strand," Anthony Lumpkin, a father visiting nearby attractions, told WESH.com.

On the other hand, Celeste Imlay, a mom from Lake Mary, said the mask policy would stop her from going to the amusement park.

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"No, (we) definitely will not be going to Universal," Imlay told WESH.com. "I would be upset, very upset if I had ticket or annual passes."

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