Update for February 12th at 12:31 PM EST: According to Local10.com the Biden Administration is announcing it has no plans to restrict travel to Florida. Answers to specific issues detailed in our original article (such as restricted domestic flights) do not appear to be answered. Our article was originally based on the Miami Herald’s reporting. As always, should more information arise, we will relay pertinent details to our valued readers. Orginal article follows:
See, you just thought 2020 was rough, and then here comes 2021. It turns out that the Biden Administration is now looking at locking down interstate travel, rather than opening up the United States as vaccines continue to roll out. The culprit this time? The B117 variant of COVID-19, which reportedly is rendered moot by our current coronavirus vaccines in the same way older strains have been.
According to the Miami Herald, the Executive Branch of the US government is considering restricting travel to the state of Florida due to the increased occurrence of the B117 strain seen there. The strain currently makes up about 15% of the total COVID-19 type viruses detected in Florida’s population. And while the state of Florida is a leader in vaccinations for the United States, it may yet suffer greatly should restrictions go into place.
For Disney and Florida, these warnings could not come at worse times. For Disney, just the threat of heavily restricted travel is enough to damage their stock valuation on the eve of their shareholder report. While the majority of their stock price is attributed to Disney+ future potential, the fact remains that Walt Disney World continues to be essentially their only major positive revenue stream during the pandemic. If the federal government attempts to shut down travel to Florida, it seems difficult to see a way to keep Disney’s crown jewel resort open with only locals.
For Florida, this threat could be devastating to their tourism industry that was already decimated in 2020. Should Florida be unable to welcome guests during the late spring and summer, the resulting damage would be catastrophic — on par with the level of unemployment seen in California. Yet that is exactly what we are told is being mulled over by both the CDC and the US Transportation Department (how this could be constitutionally enacted has yet to be clarified). California unemployment is a staggering nine percent, while Florida has a rate lower than the national average of six… but that could certainly change if the US government punishes Floridians.
In response to the Democrat Administration’s posturing over travel restrictions, the Republicans of far diminished power had this to say:
“Governor DeSantis opposes travel restrictions and does not believe diagnostic tests should be a prerequisite to domestic air travel.” — Spokeswoman for the Florida Governor’s Office
“Instituting a travel ban, or any restriction of movement between the states, would be an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science.” — Senator Marco Rubio
Given that these are decisions being made by politicians (for example, the head of the US Department of Transportation is a former small town mayor who ran for president and has no transportation experience), it cannot be discounted that these are politically motivated threats to the state of Florida. We know of no similar threats to California, or to states leading in deaths and morbidity such as New York and New Jersey. Indeed, the past year has seen a flood of individuals moving from states like California and New York to places like Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. Only the naïve would fail to consider that threats against specific states dependent on tourism might be a means by which to cut into their success.
Whatever the motivations for this potential travel restriction, it is certain to outright wreck the lives of those who depend on people coming in to visit. We wish everyone a healthy life, vibrancy in the face of disease, and a strong economic future. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered blog that objectively covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.