Disney, Universal call California's theme park opening norms "unworkable," "shameful"
Disney and Universal are engaged in a tussle with the California Governor over the recent controversy surrounding COVID-19 healthcare guidelines mandating and prohibiting theme park openings across the state. The state has been facing a severe economic blow since March as big theme parks shut down because of the pandemic. The tussle gathered steam after the Governor took a U-turn on reopening them.
California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Secretary Mark Ghaly recently maintained that officials are mulling healthcare plans to resume operations in theme parks so that the community's economy starts to recover. However, California Governor Gavin Newsom said a day later, "We don't anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data."
The latest rules for California state that prominent theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal are allowed to reopen once the state reaches the COVID-19 Tier-4 (yellow) level, in which there is 1 in 100,000 cases per day. This, Disneyland says, is impossible for now, as Orange County Health Care Agency Director Clayton Chau said California may achieve yellow tier by next summer.
This puts huge financial pressure over Disneyland, which has decided to lay off 28,000 workers due to the shutdown. Disneyland officials call the new requirements "irreparably devastating" to commerce. "We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines," said Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock.
Karen Irwin, President and Chief Operating Officer for Universal Studios Hollywood, said the guidelines "makes no sense." "It ignores science, reason and the economic devastation this will bring to the thousands of our employees. We've collaborated with Los Angeles County Health Department and government officials on a comprehensive plan to move forward safely here, and we are prepared and ready to reopen," said Irwin.