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Disney Locks Horns With California Over Theme Park Reopenings

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) clashed today with California’s governor Gavin Newsom about the reopening schedule of the state’s theme parks and similar attractions.

Newsom stated that the California legislature feels “there’s no hurry to put out guidelines” for park reopenings

She went on to say Disney’s COVID-19 safety measures for its parks were worked out with epidemiologists and used guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. Dr. Hymel added that Disney’s other theme parks “have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols” both domestically and abroad.

California Attractions and Parks Association Executive Director Erin Guerrero also issued a statement: “California’s amusement parks are ready to responsibly reopen.” Guerrero called Gavin’s statement “unreasonable,” and said that his “‘no big rush’ approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”

and that he doesn’t “anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data,” as reported by Hollywood news source Deadline.

Disney reacted strongly to the governor’s commentary. Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel tweeted, “We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach.”

The backlash over Newsom’s statements comes the same day Disney said it will lay off 8,800 part-time theme park workers. Last Wednesday, Disney said it would lay off 28,000 workers, but union negotiations have since limited the pink slips to part-time workers only and made even those layoffs potentially nonpermanent.

Disneyland Park is the world's second-most visited theme park, normally drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day Disneyland Park is the world’s second-most visited theme park, normally drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / DAVID MCNEW

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Rhian Hunt has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short October 2020 $125 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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