Disney on Ice & UFC 261: How do COVID-19 measures at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena compare?

Jacksonville, FL. — Disney on Ice is back in Jacksonville through Sunday as part of the ‘Dream Big Tour.’

The event was canceled in Jacksonville last year because of the pandemic.

Now Mickey, Minnie, Elsa, and more, return to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Crowd capacity is reduced. Face coverings are required except when actively eating or drinking.

“We’re going to keep [our masks] on and everything, but I feel safe!” said Disney on Ice attendee, Quan Surrency.

Seating inside the arena is pod-style to allow for social distancing.

All tickets in a pod must be shared by people who have chosen to attend together, and sitting in any seat outside of your seating pod is not permitted.

“I think it’s important to keep the safety precautions that we’re doing,” said Disney on Ice attendee, Erica Nichols.

Disney on Ice isn’t the only major event taking place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena this month.

The venue will host UFC 261 on April 24.

Action News Jax reported in March when UFC President, Dana White, announced UFC 261 would be held before a full crowd at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

The arena can accommodate as many as 15,000 people.

As of this week, it remains unclear whether UFC will enforce mask wearing.

The City of Jacksonville’s mask mandate expired on March 26.

A city spokesperson tells Action News Jax it will be up to UFC to decide whether face coverings will be required.

The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena’s website listing for UFC 261 includes a description of health and safety protocols.

“VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will be operating in consultation with ASM Global’s industry-leading VenueShield program, trusted protection for the live experience,” states the arena’s website.

“This VenueShield program ensures VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena is clean and certified at the highest standards for the safety and health of Arena guests, employees and clients. Our doors will be open in compliance with State and City guidelines in addition to customizing event protocols based on the needs of the UFC to create a safe and fun environment for all guests. Please check back in the near future for additional policies that will be posted for UFC 261.”

According to a tweet from MMA mania, the fine print on UFC 261 tickets includes a warning of ‘death’ or ‘permanent disability’ due to possible COVID-19 exposure. “... The Holder fully understands that the Holder’s travel to and from the Event and the arena ... may lead to exposure to COVID-19,” the text reads.

“And that contraction of COVID-19 may result in severe and permanent damage to the health of the Holder and/or others, including, but not limited to, death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, loss of taste or smell, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses...”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding large gatherings, as of guidance updated on March 7.

“CDC continues to recommend that large gatherings be avoided, particularly those in which physical (social) distancing cannot be maintained between people who live in different households,” says the CDC. “This guidance is intended for those who are planning a large event, such as sporting events, concerts, festivals, conferences, parades, or weddings...”