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COVID-19 vaccine mandate put on pause at Walt Disney World

This pause comes shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed four congressional special session bills that aim to restrict federal vaccine mandates.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World, also known as the "happiest place on Earth," pressed the pause button on its employee COVID-19 vaccination policy.

A spokesperson says Disney World believes "[its] approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as [they] continued to focus on the safety and well-being of [their] cast members and guests."

This pause comes shortly after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed four congressional special session bills that aim to combat federal vaccine mandates in the state.

Members of the state's House and Senate spent three days mulling over the bills which address state-wide changes ranging from limiting COVID-19 vaccine mandate requirements to taking steps for Florida to exit OSHA.

DeSantis said he had no choice but to call a special session because thousands of Floridians were at risk of losing their jobs for not getting vaccinated.

He added, "We are respecting people’s individual freedoms in this state."

For a full breakdown of the new laws, click here.

Walt Disney World implemented its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for salaried and non-union hourly employees to be fully vaccinated by the end of September, which was followed by the theme park enforcing union workers to be fully vaccinated by October—unless they received a medical or religious exemption.

Out of the number of active Florida-based cast members, more than 90 percent have verified a full vaccine status, according to the spokesperson.

In a statement from the governor's office, it says Walt Disney World's change on mandates was expected.

"As we would expect, Disney has amended its vaccination policy to comply with Florida law," the statement reads. "We are confident that other companies in Florida will likewise follow the laws signed by Governor DeSantis after the special session last week."

The statement from Gov. DeSantis' office also said it's hopeful employees will be able to get their jobs back. 

"We hope Disney and any other company that has suspended or terminated workers due to vaccine mandates will consider re-hiring them."