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Disney furloughs MORE workers at its California theme parks

Disney will furlough MORE workers including executives at its California theme parks and says state guidelines leave reopening ‘in limbo’ after cutting 28,000 jobs nationwide

  • Memo on Monday warned of furloughs to executive, salaried and hourly workers
  • Company says California’s tough reopening rules leave the company in limbo
  • Disney’s Florida parks reopened in July, but in California they remain closed
  • The new furloughs come on top of 28,000 layoffs of park employees 

The Walt Disney Company plans to furlough additional workers from its Disneyland theme park in Southern California, saying it still does not know when the state will allow it to reopen because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of furloughs, which include executive, salaried and hourly workers, was not known. It comes on top of the 28,000 employees who were laid off in September, mostly across Disney’s U.S. theme parks in California and Florida.

The furloughs were announced in a memo to staff from Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock on Monday. Disneyland, located in Anaheim, has been closed since mid-March.

California health authorities in October dashed hopes of the reopening of large theme parks anytime soon, saying that cannot happen until a county’s COVID-19 risk level falls to the lowest of the state’s four tiers regarding coronavirus spread and infections. 

Disney characters are seen in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park in a file photo. Disney’s California theme parks plan to furlough additional workers

‘The recently released state guidelines put us in limbo regarding a reopening timeline in the foreseeable future,’ Potrock’s memo said.

As a result, Disney was ‘in the untenable situation of having to institute additional furloughs for our executive, salaried and hourly cast,’ he said.

The furloughed employees will be able to maintain health insurance, and Potrock said he hoped to get them back to work once Disneyland eventually reopens.

California Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said last month that theme parks with a capacity of more than 15,000 visitors must wait to resume business until a county’s COVID-19 risk level drops to the lowest tier of ‘minimal’ spread. 

Tier 4 of ‘minimal’ risk level is the state’s lowest risk level and is when the county has less than one new daily case per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average and a positivity rate of less than 2 percent. 

One of the normally bustling entrances to the Disneyland resort is seen after the park was shut down in March. Disney plans to furlough additional workers at its California parks

One of the normally bustling entrances to the Disneyland resort is seen after the park was shut down in March. Disney plans to furlough additional workers at its California parks

If or when a park can reopen, the parks will then be subject to strict protocols including being limited to just 25 percent capacity for visitors. 

Indoor dining and drinking in the parks are also limited to 25 percent.  

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the U.S. reopened earlier this year without seeing new major coronavirus outbreaks but with strict social distancing, testing and mask use.

Disneyland Paris was forced to close again late last month when France imposed a new lockdown to fight a second wave of coronavirus cases. The company’s theme parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain open.

Though Disney’s Florida parks reopened in July, the parks laid off 720 actors and singers last month.

Walt Disney World in Florida last month laid off 720 actors and singers, representing the pandemic's latest blow to live entertainment. Disney cast members are seen above

Walt Disney World in Florida last month laid off 720 actors and singers, representing the pandemic’s latest blow to live entertainment. Disney cast members are seen above

Among the affected performers are cast members of the ‘Streetmosphere’ music and dance teams in each of Disney World’s theme parks, and Broadway-style shows such as Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 

Disney is set to announce its latest financial results on Thursday. Analysts predict the media giant slid to a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter that ended in September. 

Disney has struggled this year amid a sharp decline in revenue as the pandemic led to theme park closures and the postponement of several of the company´s movies. 

To cope, Disney recently said it would reorganize its business to focus even more on Disney Plus, its video streaming service. 

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