Two days after Disney announced some 28,000 layoffs in its U.S. parks business, chairman Bob Iger has resigned from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s task force on the state’s economic recovery.
The Sacramento Bee reported this afternoon that Iger has quit the post, citing a Disney spokesperson. Deadline has reached out to the company for comment.
A week ago, Josh D’Amaro — the new chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products — begged California officials to let Disneyland reopen and to “treat theme parks the way you treat other sectors.” On Monday, several state lawmakers sending a letter to Newsom this week requesting that he issue reopening guidelines for parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top health official, said Tuesday in response to Monday’s letter: “We’re working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible. We’re working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful … to ensure those activities are done responsibly.”
In a statement Thursday, the California Attractions and Parks Association urged Newsom to hold off on finalizing a draft of the reopening guidelines. “While we are aligned on many of the protocols and health and safety requirements, there are many others that need to be modified if they are to lead to a responsible and reasonable amusement park reopening plan,” the trade group that reps the state’s permanent amusement park industry wrote. “We ask the Governor not to finalize guidance for amusement parks before engaging the industry in a more earnest manner, listening to park operators’ expertise, and collaborating with the industry on a plan that will allow for amusement parks to reopen responsibly while still keeping the health and safety of park employees and guests a top priority.”
Disney’s U.S. parks business in California and Florida has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, with its Disneyland in Anaheim, Disney World in Orlando and other attractions forced to close in mid-March. The Florida resort reopened in on July 11 with reduced capacity and COVID protocols in place, but it has dealt with some challenges since including more cancellations at the park than top executives first anticipated.
Iger was a charter member of the bipartisan task force that Newsom said when it was formed in April would include “the best and brightest leaders” and focus on “a safe reset, a safe restart for a roadmap for recovery — predicated on health, predicated on data, predicated on science.” It is co-chaired by former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer and Newsom’s chief of staff Ann O’Leary, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. The groups also includes tech CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook, state politicians, former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and California four most recent governors: Jerry Brown, who served from 2011-19 and also from 1976-83; Arnold Schwarzenegger (2003-11); Gray Davis (1999-2003) and Pete Wilson (1991-99).
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