Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said the state has delayed releasing coronavirus-related guidelines for theme parks, two days after Disney halted plans to reopen Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on July 17.
Disney’s postponement decision, announced Wednesday, came as California officials indicated to the company that the guidelines to reopen theme parks in the state wouldn’t come until after the Fourth of July, according to a statement from the company.
But a time frame for when those would be established and released is still unclear.
“We have delayed those guidelines,” Newsom said at a news conference Friday. “Disney, to their credit, recognized that and made that public.”
Newsom applauded the move, expressing appreciation to the company’s executives for being patient as California prepares guidance to help theme park safely welcome back guests amid the pandemic.
As California sees a dramatic uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases — the Golden State recorded more than 7,100 positive tests earlier this week, its single-highest daily count to date — Newsom has temporarily put the brakes on the state’s phased plan to restart the economy.
“That is the case, we are at pause — have been for over a week now — and there is nothing to suggest, based upon the criteria and conditions, and those trend lines … that we’ll be moving anytime soon by pushing further with those protocols,” he said.
Disney’s Anaheim theme parks, along with Downtown Disney and the resort’s hotels, have been shuttered for about three months.
Downtown Disney’s reopening, slated for July 9, is scheduled to go on as planned, according to the company.
“Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date,” a statement from Disney reads, in regards to the theme parks.
While providing an update on California’s response to the pandemic, Newsom gave no indication on when such guidance would be released for theme parks and other sectors of the state’s economy that remain closed.
As the state’s pause also includes a temporary stop on issuing new guidelines, it appears at this point that Disneyland’s closure is once more indefinite.
After the company initially announced a proposal earlier this month to reopen its theme parks, Disney employees — also known as cast members — had expressed apprehension over the safety of going back to work.
Unions representing about 17,000 workers reached out to the governor last week, sending a letter that sought to postpone the reopening.
Since then, Disney has reached an agreement with several different unions — including one representing 11,000 cast members — to bring back furloughed employees for when the parks are open again.
Still, Newsom has conveyed concerns over rising coronavirus transmission and hospitalization rates, warning a continued upward trend could lead to the state reinstating stricter measures in problematic areas to curb the virus’ spread.
On Friday, he urged Imperial County to reimplement a stay-at-home order due to a test positivity rate of 23%, a figure roughly four times higher than the statewide average.
The Southern California county was among 11 being monitored by the state because of a concerning surge in cases. While Orange County was not on the list, three bordering counties were: Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.
Nevertheless, Orange County has reported nearly 4,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks and an increase of almost 40% in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, according to the state. The county has also seen an approximately 10% increase in intensive care hospitalizations over that same period.
Anaheim, meanwhile, makes up about 11% of the county’s population but has accounted for almost one-fifth of the cases, data from the Orange County Health Care Agency’s website showed.