UPDATED with latest: Hours after California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was in “no hurry” to issue coronavirus safety guidelines so amusement parks can reopen, Disney on Wednesday responded with a statement from Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a “health-first” approach. The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe. Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and experts in local government and health agencies. All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols.
In reference to California parks — including Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland and others — Newsom said earlier, “We don’t anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data…We feel there’s no hurry to put out guidelines, and we continue to work with the industry.”
The governor’s statement comes on the same day Disney announced Walt Disney World will lay off 8,857 part-time union employees as part of the 28,000 staff cuts the entertainment giant announced late last month.
California’s theme parks have been closed since March.
PREVIOUSLY: Hours after California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was in “no hurry” to issue coronavirus safety guidelines so amusement parks could reopen, the California Attractions and Parks Association issued a blistering statement in response to an inquiry from Deadline. CAPA represents the interests of parks big and small across the state including Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm and many others.
“California theme parks are a signature industry in California,” wrote the organization’s executive director, Erin Guerrero. “Parks have spent months developing comprehensive draft guidelines with input from international health and safety experts. Parks are ready to reopen with best practice protocols to provide a healthy and responsible environment for both guests and employees. We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon. Each day that parks are closed further decimates the amusement park industry. The Governor’s “no big rush” approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”
Guerrero then refers to a back and forth between the state and theme parks last week about guidelines the state was considering. She says Newsom’s staff committed to work with the parks on reopening but says, given that there have been no known outbreaks at parks, Newsom’s stance is “unreasonable.”
“When the Newsom Administration agreed not to finalize draft guidance that was floated last week, the governor’s staff committed to work with the theme park industry,” wrote Guerrero. “We hoped their commitment to working with us was genuine, that we’d finally work diligently and collaboratively on guidance to allow amusement parks to responsibly reopen within a reasonable timeframe. We agree that science and data should guide safety decisions, but keeping amusement parks closed indefinitely when there are no known outbreaks being traced back to reopened amusement parks worldwide is unreasonable.”
Like many critics of the Governor’s coronavirus decisions, Guerrero then makes an economic argument.
“Responsibly reopening amusement parks and fighting this pandemic do not need to be mutually
exclusive,” she writes, “tens of thousands of amusement park workers and their families, businesses surrounding amusement parks, and desperate local governments are counting on the state to do both. Let’s get this signature California industry back to work.”
For much more on this issue, read Deadline’s story about the governor’s stance.
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