TOKYO - Amid the rise in coronavirus cases, theme parks in Japan are urging guests who ride roller coasters to avoid screaming in hopes of fighting the spread of COVID-19.
In an attempt to demonstrate how to properly ride a roller coaster in the pandemic era, two executives of Fuji-Q Highland, located 68 miles west of Tokyo, are seen in a video posted by the park remaining stoic as the ride zig-zags for several minutes.
The video ends with a caption that translates to, “Please scream inside your heart.”
Fuji-Q Highland’s request comes as a group of major amusement park operators in Japan have released new coronavirus guidelines as parks begin to reopen. One guideline requests that guests “wear masks, and urge them to refrain from shouting/screaming.”
While the act of screaming on a roller coaster feels as natural as laughing at a joke, shouting can emit thousands of respiratory particles that can significantly increase the risk of spreading an infection like the novel coronavirus.
In an attempt to show the effectiveness of facial coverings, one medical expert’s widely-shared Twitter thread has demonstrated just how many of these droplets can spread from an individuals face even from an action as seemingly harmless as talking.
Dr. Richard Davis, who is the clinical microbiology lab director at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, sneezed, sang, talked and coughed toward an agar culture plate with and without a mask.
Agar culture plates are Petri dishes filled with agar, a gelatinous substance obtained from red algea to culture, or help multiply, microorganisms. After performing each action, Davis said bacteria colonies formed in the dishes where the respiratory droplets emitted from his mouth landed.
“Bacteria colonies show where droplets landed. A mask blocks virtually all of them,” Davis wrote in a caption for the post.
The images of the experiment showed that every action performed unmasked nearly covered each Petri dish in bacteria, while the dishes used during the masked demonstration were left nearly untouched. Sneezing and coughing left the most noticeable difference on the plates.
The screaming ban is currently supported by Oriental Land Co., which operates Tokyo Disneyland. A spokesperson for the company told the Wall Street Journal that screaming violators won’t be punished.
Meanwhile, in the United States, despite a huge surge of Floridians testing positive for the new coronavirus in recent weeks, two of Disney World's four parks are reopening Saturday.
Disney has been reopening its parks around the globe for the past two months. In May, the company opened Disney Springs, a complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in Lake Buena Vista. Only Disneyland in California delayed its plans to reopen in mid-July, saying it was awaiting guidelines from the state.
On Thursday, Actors' Equity Association filed a labor grievance against Disney World, saying their members faced retaliation for demanding coronavirus tests. The actors and singers initially were called back to work, but that invitation was rescinded last week after the union made public their concerns about the lack of testing, according to Actors' Equity Association.
For the parks to reopen, “the epidemic must be under control with contact tracing ... and that is not the case in Florida," said Brandon Lorenz, a spokesman for Actors' Equity Association. “We don’t believe the workplace plan is safe. It has risks not just for the workers but for the guests."
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.