Disney World Employees Push to Delay Reopening as Florida Coronavirus Cases Surge
Disneyland in California announced on Wednesday they would delay their planned July 17 reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic
Walt Disney World Resort employees and others are urging Disney and government officials to delay the park's reopening next month amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Florida.
A petition created by employee Katie Belisle and posted on Sunday has gathered over 10,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, with the goal of pushing back Disney World's reopening, currently set to begin July 11.
Florida is among over two dozen U.S. states experiencing a surge of coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the state reported 5,511 new cases in one day — its highest rate ever.
Disney announced on Wednesday that the reopening of Disneyland and California Adventure Park, originally scheduled for July 17, will be delayed due to the coronavirus situation in California. A statement from the company said they "have no choice but to delay the reopening," and a new date will be announced, "once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released."
"This virus is not gone, unfortunately, it’s only become worse in this state,” the MoveOn.org petition states. “Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe. Re-opening the theme parks is only putting our guests, employees, and families at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.”
It continues: "As individuals who work in the bustling tourism industry in central Florida, we are responsible for ensuring the safety of our guests and our fellow magic makers . . . We are encouraged to say something when we see something that we deem is unsafe so we’re speaking up."
PEOPLE has reached out to Disney for comment.
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Speaking about the extended closure at its California parks, Disney told CNBC in a statement, "The safety and well being of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we are in active dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening."
Currently, Disney plans to reopen Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. In total, the parks employ around 70,000 people.
Beforehand, Disney World in Florida had only ever shut its doors due to the threat of hurricanes — most recently, Hurricane Dorian in September 2019— and the day after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
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