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Newsom: California in ‘No Hurry’ to Reopen Disneyland, Other Theme Parks

The governor also said he was not surprised by Disney chairman Bob Iger’s resignation from California’s economic recovery task force

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday that the state will be “stubborn” about keeping restrictions on theme parks and is not in a “hurry” to put out guidelines for reopening the parks.

“We don’t anticipate, in the immediate term, any of these larger theme parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data,” Newsom said during a press conference. “We’re going to be stubborn about it, and that’s our commitment, that’s our resolve. While we feel there’s no hurry putting out guidelines, we’re continuing to work with the industry.”

When asked about Disney chairman Bob Iger’s abrupt resignation from California’s economic recovery task force last week, Newsom said it “didn’t come to me as a surprise at all.”

“There’s disagreements in terms of opening a major theme park. We’re going to let science and data make that determination,” Newsom said, adding later that the large theme parks are “complex” and like “small cities.” He said, “I understand the dialectic, the friction, the frustration that many business leaders have. They want to move forward, sectorally, to reopen. But we’re going to be led by a health-first framework.”

Last month, Disney said it would be cutting 28,000 parks jobs and blamed California for its “unwillingness” to lift restrictions on theme parks due to the pandemic. Disneyland has been closed since March, while Walt Disney World in Florida reopened with restrictions in July.

“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach. 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,” Pamela Hymel, Disney’s chief medical officer, said in a statement on Wednesday night. “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 safety protocols.”

On Wednesday, California reported 2,764 new COVID-19 cases and 51 new deaths, making for a total of 831,225 cases and 16,228 deaths. Orange County, where theme parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are located, reported 100 new cases and two new deaths on Wednesday; in total, the county has had 54,203 cases and 1,289 deaths.