California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the long-awaited guidelines on how the state’s theme parks can reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be released on Tuesday.
The announcement won’t come from Newsom himself, but California health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
“Tomorrow, Dr. Ghaly will update you on some of those industries and guidelines including sports and some of these theme parks,” Newsom said at a Monday press conference. “We’re going to break up the theme parks. It’s not just one or two brands, it’s many different parts that are part of the theme park industry, but Dr. Ghaly will be updating you tomorrow on those guidelines.”
The announcement comes after more than a month of back-and-forth criticisms between Newsom and the state’s theme park operators, namely Disney.
The industry has argued other states’ experiences have shown parks can be operated safely during the COVID-19 era with safeguards like limited attendance and face mask requirements. Their approaches have garnered the support from local governments — hurt by drops in tax revenue during theme parks’ seven-month closures — and even Disney fan websites.
Unionized workers at Disneyland have also called for reopening since settling a previous issue with Disney over COVID-19 testing for employees. The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions wrote in a letter to Newsom, “we believe a path exists where Disneyland would be able to open safely when Orange County moves into the Orange tier” of the state’s reopening guidelines.
After weeks of Newsom saying the guidelines were coming “soon,” Disney partially blamed Newsom as it announced 28,000 workers were being laid off in its theme park division. At least 15,000 of those employees losing their jobs work at Disney World, which has been open since July.
At the beginning of October, Newsom withheld the guidelines after the California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA) came out against the proposed restrictions. The group, which lobbies the state government on behalf of California’s theme parks, asked Newsom to continue discussions with the industry.
Asked by Theme Park Tribune if the industry was satisfied with Newsom’s level of engagement this time around, CAPA declined to comment ahead of the guidelines’ release.
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