Universal Studios Extends Park Closures Through May 31

Universal Studios Orlando - Getty - H - 2016
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Staff will be paid through April 19, then cuts will begin.

Universal Studios on Thursday extended its park closures through at least May 31. 

The announcement comes after The Walt Disney Co. said nearly two weeks ago that its North American theme parks would stay closed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed, based on guidance from health agencies and government officials," Universal Studios said in a statement.

Staff will be paid through April 19. 

"Beginning April 20, nearly all our team members will be paid at 80 percent of their pay — and we will ask them to adjust their work accordingly," the statement said. "A small group of team members will be asked to continue working at 100 percent and will continue to be paid at that level. We have also made the difficult decision that we will furlough our part-time hourly workers beginning May 3."

The statement concluded, "During this time, we will fully cover the cost of benefit plans for those team members who have them."

Universal Studios, along with the Disney parks, closed the weekend of March 14. At first, all these major theme parks were only going to be closed through the month. But as the novel coronavirus pandemic became more severe, it was clear that would not suffice and, on March 24, Universal Studios pushed its date to April 20, saying employees would be paid during that period of time. 

Pressure was then on Disney, especially by the unions, to announce its plans, as it was then clear neither Disneyland nor Walt Disney World would be allowed to reopen due to restrictions put in place by state and local governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

On March 28, the Walt Disney Co. said its North American parks, along with Disney Paris, would be closed indefinitely; workers would be paid through April 18. After that time, the company said furloughs would begin for park employees, which were announced April 2. There are at least 10,000 employees impacted at Disneyland alone. 

However, the burden of the parks being closed was not placed solely of the shoulders of staff. On March 20, it was announced executive chairman Bob Iger would forgo his entire salary and recently named CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50 percent pay cut to his base salary amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other executives would also be required to take pay cuts. 

April 9, 1:40 p.m. Updated with Universal Studios announcing the parks will be closed through May 31.