Actors’ Equity Association has reached an agreement with Walt Disney World related to COVID-19 testing, which should lead to the performers returning to work.
Walt Disney World has agreed with the union to provide space for an on-site center for COVID-19 testing, a demand that the union has been asking for since June of this year.
According to a statement from Disney, the location is being offered to help with community testing, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management will operate it – though this is not the result of any one union’s actions. Cast members, their immediate families, and Florida residents will be able to utilize the testing location. You can read the full statement from Disney below:
We have offered the location to help with community testing and any suggestion that this has been done as a result of any one union is unfounded. The Florida Division of Emergency Management will operate the location which is available to Cast Members and their immediate families as well as Florida residents. Our actions support all cast and our community at large.Disney
“We have been consistent that testing is an important park of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Assocation. “With the news that Disney will make testing available for Equity performers and others in the park, I’m happy to announce that Equity’s executive committee has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for Equity performers to return.”
On June 23, Disney announced its plans to call equity actors back to work for rehearsals the following week. On June 25, the union made a public statement that actors need to be tested for COIVD because they cannot practice proper social distancing throughout their workday. On the following day, June 26, Walt Disney World rescinded its recall notices for those performers.
Since then, shows that feature equity performers have either been temporarily suspended or re-worked to not include those performers, and many actors in the union have voiced their desire to return to work. many actors in the union have voiced their desire to return to work. They are calling themselves SAFE, based on the message from the video they posted saying Disney makes them feel safe.
When SAFE was reached for comment, they said,
We are so glad that Actors Equity Association has realized that voluntary state run testing is a valid option for cast members! We can only hope that our message about Disney’s amazing safety policies made a difference in their point of view!SAFE
With this news, it seems that these shows will soon return to their true form at Walt Disney World Resort.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include the statement and clarification from Walt Disney World Resort.