The BA.5 COVID-19 Variant and Disney World: What You Need To Know

To ensure we are equipping our readers with all the information they need, we will continue to report on all travel, safety, and COVID-related news that could impact a Disney Parks visit.

Many restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have eased, both in the world and specifically in the Disney parks. Mask requirements, physical distancing, and other measures seem to be a thing of the past. But the situation with COVID-19 variants continues to change.

COVID-19 Health and Safety Sign

We recently reported on the BA.2 COVID-19 variant, which is a subset of the Omicron variant. Now, experts have moved on to focus on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, both of which have become more prominent in America recently. Here’s what you need to know about the variants and how they could impact your upcoming Disney World trip.

What Is the BA.5 COVID-19 Variant?

The BA.5 COVID-19 variant is another subvariant of Omicron. According to The New York Times, experts have determined that it is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the world. It, along with the BA.4 subvariant, have been “fueling an outbreak of cases and hospitalizations.”

Face mask

Both BA.5 and BA.4 became prominent during the winter of 2021 and 2022.

How Is It Different from Past Variants?

Although the CDC has stated that there is currently no evidence that these subvariants are “inherently more severe than other Omicron subvariants,” they may be more transmissible than previous strains.

COVID-19 Sign in Magic Kingdom

The Times reported that both variants have “mutations in their spike proteins,” which may allow them to evade immunity and infect people who have antibodies from previous variants.

In fact, scientists suspect that BA.5 will be the most transmissible variant yet in the United States.

What’s Going On in the US and the World?

The United States — which has a lower vaccination rate than many other countries — is currently experiencing a wave of the BA.5 and BA.4 variants. Positive COVID-19 tests are on the rise, and the rate of infection could grow to be higher than during most other waves of COVID-19 variants, according to the CDC.

Experts warn that the risk of infection from these variants is increasing. A professor who has studied BA.5 said, “I think there’s an underappreciation of what it’s going to do to the country, and it already is exerting its effect” (New York Times).

COVID-19 Signs

In other parts of the world, BA.5 is continuing to become more prominent. In Portugal, cases have risen sharply since May, and hospitalizations are also up. Infection rates and hospitalizations are also increasing in South Africa. And some European countries have reported an increase in COVID-19 cases despite spring waves of previous subvariants.

©CDC via The New York Times

Currently, experts don’t know how these subvariants will impact the United States, which was recently hit with the BA.2 subvariant in May and June. The Times reported that “high shares of recent infections from BA.2.12.1 like that in the United States were uncommon among the countries now experiencing waves of BA.4 and BA.5 infections.” So it’s possible that the US will not be hit as hard by the BA.5 variant as other countries are experiencing now.

COVID-19 and Disney World

Heading to Disney World soon and wondering what’s going on there and how the subvariant could impact things? Mask rules have changed this year, so you’ll want to know what the updated requirements are.

Mask Vending Machine

Right now, face masks are OPTIONAL for guests in outdoor and indoor locations, as well as Disney transportation. The only exception is First Aid stations, which may still require face masks inside. Disney continues to recommend, however, that guests who are not fully vaccinated wear masks in all indoor spots.

Face Mask

Disney World has not announced any changes to the current health and safety policies.

Disney is continuing to reopen attractions, restaurants, and events in its parks. We recently learned about the return of character dining at some restaurants, and the popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue reopened just a couple of weeks ago. More character meet-and-greets are also returning to the parks soon.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue has reopened

We’ll continue to update this post as we learn more about the most recent COVID-19 subvariant, so stay tuned with DFB.

Click here to learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting Disney parks and travel in general.

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The post The BA.5 COVID-19 Variant and Disney World: What You Need To Know first appeared on the disney food blog.