Less than three weeks after its theme parks reopened, Universal Orlando has laid off an undisclosed number of employees across multiple departments.
“We have made the difficult decision to reduce our Parks & Resorts workforce across multiple locations and business units,” Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder told Theme Park Tribune in an emailed statement. “This decision was not made lightly, but was necessary to prepare us for the future.”
Schroder added: “We continue to have long-term confidence in our business and our industry and remain excited about all of the projects we have been working toward.”
Full-time Universal Orlando employees had been kept on the resort’s payroll during its coronavirus-induced shutdown with a 20 percent pay cut. Part-time employees were furloughed on May 3 — nearly six weeks after the parks closed — while the vast majority of Disney World’s unionized workers, both full- and part-time, were temporarily laid off on April 19.
Capacity has been limited at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay since the parks reopened on June 5. While capacity is limited to allow for physical distancing, crowds have also been light. A Bloomberg report estimated the initial attendance was about one-fifth the size of June 2019 crowds, based on cell phone data.
While there is no evidence theme parks are to blame, COVID-19 cases are spiking in Central Florida, with Orange County reporting 375 new cases on Tuesday. Restaurants in and around Orlando have shut down again after employees tested positive, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Orlando International Airport said in a press release that there were signs of a rebound in tourism, as it welcomed more than 20,000 departing passengers on Monday — the first time it hit that threshold since March 22. That’s a far cry from its regular traffic, however; in 2019, MCO averaged nearly 145,000 passengers a day.
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