Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he expects social distancing and mask-wearing at its theme parks (the ones that are open, at least) for the remainder of the year, but that the vaccine rollout will ultimately determining what level that ends up being.
“We have no doubt, that when we reopen up in parks that were closed, or increase the capacity, that we’ll have some level of social distancing and mask-wearing for the remainder of this year,” Chapek said Thursday during Disney’s conference call to discuss earnings for its first fiscal quarter of 2021. “That’s our expectation. But, I believe that Dr. Fauci said earlier today that he hopes that there is vaccines for everyone who wants them by April this year. If that happens, that is a game-changer.”
Earlier on Thursday, Dr. Fauci said that he expects there to be enough vaccines in the U.S. by April for all adults to start getting the shot. Later that day, President Biden announced his administration has purchased an additional 200 million does, enough to immunize most Americans by the end of the summer.
Disney’s parks have been hampered by the closures (or reduced capacity) because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has left Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure closed for almost a year. Its other parks, including Walt Disney World in Florida, have been operating at 35% capacity or below since reopening last year.
Chapek said that despite all of the issues, he’s pretty optomistic about a quick rebound when it can fully open its theme parks back up, assuming the vaccine rollout goes as smoothly as hoped.
“Despite everything that’s happening with the pandemic, I think we’ve made a pretty big impression on our consumer base and prospective guests, in terms of the safety measures that we’ve undertaken at our parks, to give assurances to people that they should come and bring their families,” he said. “We’re very, very pleased with what we’re seeing in terms of future bookings.”