Disneyland Moves Forward With County Health Agency’s COVID-19 Recommendations Amid State Standoff

Disneyland March 13, 2020
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The monorail passes an entrance gate to Disneyland on March 13, 2020 in Anaheim.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier in the week there is "no hurry" to allow the theme park to reopen.

Disneyland is implementing new health and safety recommendations from the Orange County Health Care Agency amid a standoff between the conglomerate and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Officials from the city of Anaheim recently toured Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to view the COVID-19 measures adopted, KTLA reports.

Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city of Anaheim who was on the tour, told the news station what he witnessed. "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. There are floor markings everywhere that will keep my party away from another party, basically keeping that 6 feet of distance between them," he said Friday.

Lyster also noted there will also be a "significant amount of open space" between parties while waiting on rides. Much of what he described is how Disney World is currently operating.

As with Downtown Disney, which is currently open, several hand sanitizer stations have been placed around the park and masks will be required.

The news comes in the same week that Newsom said he had no plans to budge on Disney's demand that the park be allowed to reopen; the company pointing to the success of Walt Disney World, which reopened in phases back in July.

"We don’t anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data," Newsom said Wednesday. "We feel there’s no hurry to put out guidelines, and we continue to work with the industry."

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences & Products, made clear in September that the company was impatiently waiting for word from the state about a plan to reopen. Furthermore, he said then that failure to agree on terms would result in consequences, such as impacts on the local economy and staff reductions. Then 28,000 layoffs were announced and Disney Chairman Bob Iger resigned from the stare's coronavirus economic task force. Newsom side he was not surprised by Iger's move.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu last week implored Newsom to offer guidance for Disneyland's and the convention center's reopening. “There is too much at stake. We need attainable guidelines that allow our theme parks and convention center to safely reopen to get people back to work and restore our economy,”  Sidhu said via Twitter. "My invitation still stands for Gov. Newsom to visit Anaheim and see the impact firsthand."

Disney’s chief medical officer criticized Newsom's defiance.

"We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a 'health-first' approach," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel said in a statement Wednesday. "The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe. Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and experts in local government and health agencies. All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols."