Disney World and Apple stores will require customers to wear masks indoors again, as companies adjust to rising Covid-19 cases and shifting federal guidance that have injected new uncertainty into the economy.

Walt Disney Co. DIS -0.45% ’s new policy, affecting visitors to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., will go into effect on Friday. All Disney parks employees will wear masks indoors, as well. Face masks will be required regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

“We are adapting our health and safety guidelines based on guidance from health and government officials,” a Disney spokesperson said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that vaccinated people resume wearing masks in some indoor spaces.

The reinforcement of masks is just the latest chapter in Disney’s 16-month saga of reopening its theme parks in the wake of Covid-19. The pandemic threatened Disney’s business in unprecedented ways, eliminating more than $1 billion from its bottom line and leading to the layoffs of tens of thousands of workers. As the economy reopened earlier this year, Disney’s response—and consumers’ enthusiasm to get back to the parks—became a telltale of the country’s larger re-emergence.

In June, Disney told visitors to Walt Disney World they could lose the masks “in most areas” if they were vaccinated. At the time, Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said the change was “very big news for us, particularly if anyone has been in Florida in the middle of summer with a mask on.”

Apple is now requiring masks at most of its U.S. stores.

Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Now rising infection rates, buoyed by the highly contagious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, are prompting Disney and other companies to adjust policies.

Apple Inc. AAPL 0.46% this week said it would require employees and customers to don masks at most of its U.S. stores regardless of vaccination status. The new mask policy in more than half Apple’s U.S. stores goes into effect July 29, and comes after Apple reviewed local health data and new guidelines from the CDC, the company said.

Networking-equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc. plans to require employees to wear masks in its U.S. offices, regardless of vaccination status, said Francine Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people, policy and purpose officer. The company, following earlier guidance from the CDC released in May, had previously told staffers that vaccinated employees could work in offices without masks.

“For a brief moment, that was lovely,” Ms. Katsoudas said. “Now, with everything that we’re learning, we’ve asked our employees to wear masks in the office.”

Since their return, guests at Disney’s parks have reported significant crowds, and executives saw massive demand for tickets when they went on sale. Differing state responses put the two parks on different paths to reopening. Disneyland was closed for 14 months before reopening in April, whereas Disney World has been selling tickets since last summer.

Florida has seen a significant rise in Covid-19 infections in recent days, and earlier this month the state registered the highest number of Covid-related deaths in the country. Hospitalizations in mid-July were the highest they had been since February. Jerry Demings, mayor of Orange County, where Disney World is based, called the uptick “extraordinary” and said at a press conference earlier this week that the resurgence put the area in “crisis mode.” Counties across Florida have also reported a significant increase in infections.

In California, where lawmakers have been more conservative than their counterparts in Florida about reopening the economy, health officials have suggested vaccinated residents resume wearing masks indoors. The state has also registered an increase in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations.

While Covid-19 vaccinations are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations or death from the virus, they’re not foolproof in preventing infection. This poses problems for events like the Olympics and raises broader questions about immunity in the long term. Photo: David Crigger/Associated Press

Write to Erich Schwartzel at [email protected]

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This post first appeared on wsj.com

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