5,389 employees at Universal Orlando will remain on furlough as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit tourists and theme park guests at the resort.
In a letter to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Universal said that when it first instituted furloughs for part-time workers on May 3, it could not have anticipated that the furlough period would exceed six months. Now, the economic impact will likely stretch into 2021, according to Universal.
“However, due to business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time, Universal Orlando now expects these Team Members’ furlough could extend six months from their initial furlough date,” wrote Scot LaFerte, Universal Orlando Resort’s senior vice president of human resources. “Although their furloughs are expected to be permanent, this grouping of affected Team Members will continue to be furloughed until further notice.”
The furloughed employees came from multiple departments around the resort, including 416 attractions attendants, 284 cashiers, 215 security officers, and 104 actors.
Some of the affected workers were furloughed after Universal reopened its theme parks in June. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said earlier this week that attendance is around 25 percent of normal levels at Universal parks. Accordingly, Universal has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs since reopening, including more than 2,300 workers at Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels losing their jobs.
Other Central Florida theme parks have also permanently laid off staff members due to the impact of the pandemic. SeaWorld laid off nearly 1,900 workers at its three Orlando properties. Legoland Florida let go an unspecified number of employees in July.
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