Disneyland implements O.C. health agency’s COVID-19 recommendations while awaiting state’s reopening guidance

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Disneyland has added new health and safety recommendations in the hopes of getting the green light to welcome back guests, even as Gov. Gavin Newsom has delayed theme park reopening guidelines, insisting this week that California is in no hurry to issue them.

The recommendations came from the Orange County Health Care Agency, which — along with officials from the city of Anaheim — toured Disneyland and Disney California Adventure last week to view the COVID-19 measures adopted by the theme parks, the O.C. Register reported.

The safety protocols include physical distancing measures and plastic shields on rides, according to Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city of Anaheim who was on the tour.

“On the rides, you’ll see much more plastic shielding in place, wherever folks might come into contact with each other in fairly close proximity,” Lyster told KTLA on Friday. “There are floor markings everywhere that will keep my party away from another party, basically keeping that 6 feet of distance between them.”

There will also be a “significant amount of open space” between parties when they are loaded onto rides, he said.

Other recommendations that Disney implemented include setting up more hand sanitizing stations, posting markings on the ground to mitigate cross traffic and adding Spanish language signs with information on the COVID-19 health and safety measures, according to the Register.

Disneyland has previously said that other protocols would include required facial coverings and temperature checks.

But while the theme park gears up to reopen, it’s still unclear when they state will allow the sector to do so — or even when California public health officials will issue the guidelines to help with that process.

Newsom on Wednesday appeared to backtrack on his comments last month that the guidance would be released soon, now saying that the new rules would not be issued in the “immediate term.”

“We feel there’s no hurry in putting out guidelines,” the governor said. “We’re going to be led by a health-first framework and … we’re going to be stubborn about it.”

Disney Parks’ Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel responded to Newsom’s remarks Wednesday, saying in a statement that the company “absolutely reject[s] the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach.”

Hymel noted that Disney collaborated with experts to develop its COVID-19 measures, which are in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s guidance. She also pointed to the successful reopenings of the company’s other parks in the U.S. and around the world as “our proven ability to operate with responsible healthy and safety protocols.”

It’s not just Disneyland that has expressed frustration over the issue: city and county officials have also been pushing for Newsom to issue the amusement park guidelines, citing the toll the monthslong closures has wreaked on the state’s and local economies.

California will likely lose $80 million in travel-related spending this year, while the city of Anaheim faces a $100-million budget deficit.

KTLA reached out to the governor’s office on Friday to see if there is any update on issuing the guidelines but has yet to hear back.

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