Oct 20, 2020 - Health

California issues more rigid COVID-19 guidelines for theme park re-openings

Picture of disney employees walking past the entrance to Disneyland Park
Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California health officials on Tuesday told theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood that they can reopen once daily coronavirus cases in their respective counties drop below one per 100,000 people.

Why it matters: Disney and Universal, both of which hoped to reopen when their counties reached "moderate" spread, have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Deadline reported that Universal Studios Hollywood laid off over 2,200 employees since July and Disney laid off 28,000 employees in September.

What they're saying: "There is a path forward. We don’t know when, but we know how" the parks will reopen, said California health secretary Mark Ghaly.

  • "We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world," president of Disneyland Resort, Ken Potrock, responded in a statement on Tuesday.
    • "Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities."
  • "Pushing us into Tier Four behind other businesses that have already reopened makes no sense," president and COO of Universal Studios Hollywood, Karen Irwin, said in a statement, according to CNBC. "...Our employees are ready to go back to work and the fact that they won’t be able to do so until well into next year is shameful."

Orange County, where both Disneyland parks are located, has 4.6 cases per 100,000 people, while Los Angeles County, where Universal Studios Hollywood is, has 10.1 cases per 100,000 people, CNBC reports.

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