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Princess Fiona forced to wear a mask as Universal Orlando reopens

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Spider-Man and Captain America were not the only ones wearing masks when Universal theme parks reopened in Florida for the first time since being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Locals with a pent-up desire for high-speed thrills descended on the Orlando resort on Friday, more than two months since they were last allowed entry due to COVID-19.

Major theme parks in the US are beginning to follow in the footsteps of Shanghai Disneyland by getting back up and running with new safety measures in place, including hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks.

Even Shrek and Princess Fiona had to keep two metres apart to adhere to social distancing rules.

Guests and staff in all three of the resort’s parks -Universal Studios, Islands Of Adventure and Volcano Bay-have to stick to the new requirements, which extend to the attractions and queues.

People had to scream through their face coverings on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, which was among the rides to leave spaces between rows to keep different groups away from each other.

Water rides like Jurassic Park River Adventure were the only ones that allowed guests to take their masks off.

Despite the restrictions, one benefit for those in attendance was that the limited capacity being enforced made for quicker queues and less crowded walkways.

There are also said to be increased cleaning and disinfection procedures, and guests are encouraged to use their smartphones to order food and reserve times on rides.

Universal’s local rivals will soon reopen with similar rules, as Florida seeks to reboot its vital tourism industry despite hundreds of coronavirus cases still being recorded each day.

The state’s health department announced a further 1,305 confirmed cases and 53 deaths on Friday morning, taking those respective totals up to 61,488 and 2,660.

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are due to reopen on 11 June, but Walt Disney World won’t be back until next month despite the closure inflicting an enormous hit on the company’s profits.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen on 11 July, followed by Hollywood Studios and Epcot four days later, with Disney also needing to consider its nearby hotels, golf courses and shopping venues.

Neither Universal or Disney have yet been given the all-clear to reopen their locations in California, but both are preparing to reopen their Japanese parks in the next few weeks.

Theme park fans in the UK will have to wait until 4 July at the earliest to get their fix, as they fall into parts of the hospitality sector that the government hopes to begin reopening next month.

Reported by: Vincent Paul

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