California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at his daily press briefing Monday that the state will provide an update on Tuesday regarding reopening guidelines for Disneyland Resort and other theme parks in the state.
"We are going to break up the theme parks," Newsom said. "It’s not just one or two brands, it’s many different parts that are part of the theme park industry, but Dr. Ghaly will be updating you tomorrow on those guidelines."
The state originally planned to issue reopening guidelines that would allow Disneyland and California Adventure to reopen on July 17. However, the plan was sidelined after a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the state.
Meanwhile, Walt Disney World reopened its Florida theme parks in mid-July with masks, social distancing, mobile ordering, contactless payment and enhanced cleaning procedures in place and Hong Kong Disneyland reopened to the public for the second time on September 25.
A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment on Newsom's announcement.
The governor's comments come amid rising tensions with the so-called "Happiest Place on Earth." Less than two weeks ago Newsom said that the state was "in no hurry in putting out guidelines” to allow theme parks to reopen, citing a "health-first framework" that is guiding the decision process.
Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement on Twitter that the company absolutely rejects "the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a 'health-first' approach'." She also argued that Disney's health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and experts in local government and health agencies.
“All of our other theme parks both in the U.S. and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols,” Hymel added.
The standstill also prompted Disney executive chairman Bob Iger to depart the state's coronavirus task force.
Newsom's announcement also comes on the heels of a joint letter obtained by FOX Business from seven unions representing the Walt Disney Company's cast members issued over the weekend urging the reopening of the Disneyland Resort.
"We wrote you in June 2020 to tell you that we were not yet convinced that it was safe to reopen the parks on Disney’s timetable. Since then, Disney has taken safety measures we advocated and engaged with their workers’ representatives, that our original position has changed," the unions wrote.
The letter continued stating that Disney "has provided detail on serious measures to protect workers via social distancing, providing PPE, addressing ventilation, and more. Most recently, the company unveiled a testing program, something we highlighted in our last letter to you."
The unions said that they believe a "path exists" where Disneyland would be able to open safely once Orange County moves into the Orange tier under the state's reopening plan, which signifies a county has only a "moderate spread", and expressed their willingness to provide input to help inform the state's reopening guidelines for theme parks.
"We strongly urge you to direct the task force to meet with us, the representatives of the resort workers, as part of this process," the unions added. "In our view, the effectiveness of public health agencies in addressing COVID19 would benefit from coordination with worker representatives like ours that have practical knowledge and expertise regarding the challenges of addressing exposure risks. The guidelines will be safer and more effective with our input."
The latest update comes after Newsom said the state sent a team to Disney's Florida theme parks to gain insight into how theme parks are successfully operating during the pandemic.
|DIS||THE WALT DISNEY CO.||175.55||-0.47||-0.27%|
According to the latest update from the state's health department, there are more than 57,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,410 related deaths in Orange County, California.
The park closings in California in conjunction with reduced capacity at the Florida parks as well as the company unable to release high-profile films to shuttered movie theaters as well as the closures of its Broadway theaters have put a big dent into the entertainment giant's bottom line.
Pandemic related layoffs have ensued and staff has seen temporary salary reductions.
The series of unfortunate events have combined to see the one-time darling of Wall Street see a drop in the company stock by 14% year-to-date.