June 19, 2020 / 8:29 PM / 19 days ago

U.S. Disneyland workers say proposed July reopening may be too early

LOS ANGELES, June 19 (Reuters) - Unions representing 17,000 workers at Walt Disney Co’s Disneyland Resort in California have told the state’s governor they are not convinced the theme park will be safe enough to reopen by the company’s July target date.

In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, the unions said they had been in discussions with Disney since mid-March when Disneyland was closed to help curb the coronavirus pandemic. The resort in Anaheim, in southern California, houses both the Disneyland theme park and the California Adventure Park, both of which the company has targeted to reopen on July 17.

“Unfortunately, despite intensive talks with the company, we are not yet convinced it is safe to reopen the parks,” the letter from the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions said.

Disney will need Newsom’s approval to open Disneyland’s gates to the public.

A Disney spokeperson said Friday the company had put the safety of workers and guests “at the forefront of our planning.”

“We look forward to continued dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening,” the spokesperson said.

The closure of Disney theme parks around the world cost the company an estimated $1 billion from January through March.

Disney plans to reopen Walt Disney World in Florida on July 11 and has outlined extensive measures from requiring masks and temperature checks to suspending parades, fireworks displays and other activities that create crowds.

The Disneyland unions said the company had accommodated some concerns. But there were “numerous questions Disney has not answered, including any serious discussion of ‘testing’ - which has been the cornerstone of plans for other areas of the entertainment industry reopening,” the unions said.

“Therefore, at this point we do not know if the resort can be operated safely,” the letter said.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler

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