Disney has shared a statement from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel responding to California Gov. Gavin Newsom stating that Disneyland and the state’s other large theme parks won’t be opening anytime soon.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 8, Newsom said, “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,” per Deadline.
Newsom also said that science and data would determine when it’s safe to reopen the theme parks, stating, “We are going to be led by a health-first framework and we’re going to be stubborn about it and that’s our commitment,” per USA Today.
In response, Disney shared a statement from Dr. Hymel, rejecting Newsom’s “health-first” comment:
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 State and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols.Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
Newsom’s latest opinion on reopening Disneyland comes just a week after The Walt Disney Company announced a layoff of 28,000 domestic employees across all levels, and the same day it was announced that Walt Disney World would be laying off 8,857 part-time union Cast Members.
The same day the layoffs were originally announced, on Sept. 29, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro released a statement that placed much of the blame for the reduction in workforce on the state of California:
In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic—exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen—we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying healthcare benefits. Approximately 28,000 domestic employees will be affected, of which about 67% are part-time. We are talking with impacted employees as well as to the unions on next steps for union-represented Cast Members.
Over the past several months, we’ve been forced to make a number of necessary adjustments to our business, and as difficult as this decision is today, we believe that the steps we are taking will enable us to emerge a more effective and efficient operation when we return to normal. Our Cast Members have always been key to our success, playing a valued and important role in delivering a world-class experience, and we look forward to providing opportunities where we can for them to return.Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
Prior to the layoff announcement, D’Amaro and Disney have pleaded with the State to share the guidelines necessary for the theme park to reopen and get cast members back to work. During an operations update webcast on Sept. 22, D’Amaro said,
“To our California government officials, particularly at the state level, I encourage you to treat theme parks like you would other sectors and help us reopen. We need guidelines that are fair and equitable, so that we can better understand our future and chart a path toward reopening. The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be to Orange County and the Anaheim community.”
At the time of writing, there have been no updates on a reopening timeline for Disneyland and California’s other major theme parks, nor have official guidelines been shared on just what the parks will have to do in order to open up their gates – they all originally closed within days of each other back in March of this year.
You can watch Newsom share his statements in last week’s press conference below: