A Louisiana man is facing trespassing charges after violating COVID-19 restrictions during a visit to Walt Disney World earlier this year.
Kelly Sills of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was arrested Feb. 13 at Disney Springs after skipping the temperature screening required of visitors. The incident garnered national attention this weekend after Orange County officials released body camera footage that showed the 47-year-old in a heated exchange with officers at the time of his arrest.
“I paid $15,000,” Sills says in the clip. “You can’t trespass if you’re paying $15,000. If I take $15,000 from you, I can’t kick you out.”
Sills told The Washington Post last week that he would have consented to a temperature screening but had inadvertently entered Disney Springs via an exit. Still, he admitted to being in “a bit of a mood” after a long day of travel.
He also clarified that the $15,000 figure was a reference to the total amount paid for a five-day trip to Disney World and Universal Studios for himself and seven to eight family members.
“COVID is a very serious thing,” he said, “but so is my vacation with my family.”
Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex located adjacent to Walt Disney World’s theme parks. Admission to the attraction, which was previously known as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and, later, Downtown Disney, is free.
Sills is perhaps the most high-profile case of a Disney World guest caught defying COVID-19 protocols since the resort began a phased reopening in July 2020 following a four-month closure. A North Palm Beach, Florida, man is facing battery charges for allegedly spitting on a security officer who asked him to wear a mask before entering one of the resort’s hotels.
In a statement, however, Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said most visitors have been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the resort’s protocols.
“Millions of guests visit our theme parks each year and in rare instances when things of this nature occur, we hold them accountable,” she wrote.
Disney currently mandates that all visitors above the age of 2 wear masks. Guests must also receive temperature checks before entering certain sights and attractions.
Such COVID-19 rules have seemed at odds with those of the state of Florida overall. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has gloated that his state is “booming” because it took a less-restrictive approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
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