Disney's Bob Iger leaves California coronavirus task force as parks remain idle
Disney's Southern California theme parks were supposed to reopen in mid-July
Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has abruptly departed California Gov. Gavin Newsom's COVID-19 economic task force, with Disneyland's reopening remaining at a standstill.
Iger left this week, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
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Newsom established the task force in April to chart a path for economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, tapping leaders from state Senate President pro tempore Toni Atkins to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove and former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
“We very much appreciate Mr. Iger’s service on the task force and respect his decision to resign,” Ann O’Leary, the governor’s chief of staff, said in an emailed statement.
Iger's departure comes as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim sit idle, waiting for reopening guidelines from the state.
The company's Southern California theme parks – which have been shuttered since March – were supposed to reopen in mid-July but those plans were sidelined due to rising COVID-19 cases in the state.
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“Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” Disney said in a statement at the time.
Newsom appreciated "Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties," spokesman Nathan Click said.
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Disney, however, has faced a significant financial blow from closures that have cost the company $3.5 billion during the third quarter alone.
Just this week, Disney said that it will be forced to lay off approximately 28,000 employees across the company's Parks, Experiences and Products segment, which includes its California parks.
Disney's chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D'Amaro, noted the decision was "exacerbated" by the "state’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen."
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California's Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, previously told FOX Business that the state's top priority is to lead with public health to slow the spread of the virus to begin reopening our economy and get Californians back to work safely and sustainably."
The state's reopening plan is "driven by science to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission low," he said.
Representatives for Disney didn't immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
FOX Business' Lucas Manfredi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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