CDC recommends 8-week ban on public gatherings

March 15, 2020, 7:00 PM · The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] today recommended that "for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States."

The CDC said that its recommendation does not apply to "the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses," however it then says that the recommendation "is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities."

Reading that, I would infer that the CDC is not trying to shut down schools and businesses where the same people are coming in every day, but rather to stop gatherings that bring in a new, unique mix of people.

You can see the CDC's recommendation on its website.

The big question for the theme park industry is... are they a "business" or a "mass gathering"? I would suggest that they are both, but that with this new recommendation it's going to be very hard for parks to justify reopening to the public at the beginning of April rather than at the end of the eight-week ban, which would come on Mother's Day, May 10.

The CDC recommendations would seem to allow parks to continue to bring employees in to work on maintenance and other issues, but I can't imagine that parks would not get roasted in the press and on social media if they tried to reopen as scheduled on April 1.

Now, it has seemed that every pronouncement from the federal government has been followed swiftly by a "clarification" that changes the announcement, so we will see if this one sticks. But the CDC said that its recommendation "is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials," so it's possibly that some states may choose to hold to this new, stricter standard even if the CDC backs off.

As usual, stay tuned.

Replies (2)

March 15, 2020 at 7:18 PM

Anyone else remember when Michael Eisner said that even Disney wasn't recession-proof? I think we're about to really see if that holds up or not.

March 15, 2020 at 7:24 PM

Again, the decision to start Disney+ is looking smarter every day.

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