California to Issue Theme Park Reopening Guidelines Tomorrow

October 19, 2020, 2:31 PM · California will provide an update on theme parks' reopening tomorrow, Governor Gavin Newsom said today. Guidelines will vary for parks of various sizes, the governor said. Meanwhile, a coalition of labor unions representing Disneyland cast members has changed its stance and come out in favor of Newsom allowing the resort's theme parks to reopen to guests.

The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions today released an email that it sent to Governor Newsom:

The undersigned Unions at the Disneyland Resort want to thank you for your leadership on the COVID-19 crisis. We believe the measures you have taken have saved thousands of lives among our membership and the general public. We appreciate the difficulty you face as you weigh getting people back to work along with ensuring their safety. With that in mind, we offer our observations on Resort safety conditions.

We wrote you in June 2020 to tell you that we were not yet convinced that it was safe to reopen the parks on Disney's timetable. Since then, Disney has taken safety measures we advocated, and engaged with their workers representatives, that our original position has changed. The company has provided detail on serious measures to protect workers via social distancing, providing PPE, addressing ventilation, and more. Most recently, the company unveiled a testing program, something we highlighted in our last letter to you.

In consideration of all the aforementioned we believe a path exists where Disneyland would be able to open safely when Orange County moves into the Orange tier.

We understand that you have created a taskforce to gather information that would inform the State's reopening guidelines for theme parks. It is understood that this taskforce visited opened theme parks in other states and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. We strongly urge you to direct the taskforce to meet with us, the representatives of the resort workers, as part of this process. In our view, the effectiveness of public health agencies in addressing COVID19 would benefit from coordination with worker representatives like ours that have practical knowledge and expertise regarding the challenges of addressing exposure risks. The guidelines will be safer and more effective with our input.

The email was signed by leaders from Workers United Local 50; Unite Here Local 11; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union Local 83; Independent Employee Service Association; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324; American Federation of Musicians Local 7, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 504.

Many unions have signed return-to-work agreements with Disneyland, though many union-represented cast members remain subject to layoff or furlough.

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Replies (7)

October 19, 2020 at 3:06 PM

I'm sure this is going to be sedate discussion....

October 19, 2020 at 4:36 PM

It's beyond time for this, but it needs to be done right. I hope to see the following three things in these guidelines:

1. Clear and achievable criteria under which theme parks may open independent of tier. Different restrictions may be placed depending on which tier the county is in, but they should not be barred completely from operation given what else the state permits to open.

2. No need for currently operating parks to scale back their operation just to resume operating as a theme park rather than as a shopping mall, food festival, or zoo. In other words, allowed capacity would be at least what is currently permitted and no guests currently allowed to visit would be excluded.

3. A guarantee that even if a county slips back to a lower tier, theme parks will not have their operations restricted unless they are directly linked to increased COVID spread in the community. The "dimmer switch" concept of Newsom's plan is among the worst elements of it, and could scare parks off from attempting to reopen if there's a danger they could be closed down again.

It has been over seven months since the parks closed in California, and we are one of only two states that hosts major theme parks yet still prohibits their operation. If this does not change soon, operators may decide California is not a viable location for such business in the near term, which could have far more damaging consequences to the state than anything the safe operation of them would bring.

October 20, 2020 at 5:56 AM

From the union statement: "We understand that you have created a taskforce to gather information that would inform the State's reopening guidelines for theme parks."

Me: They "understand"? What the he'll does that mean? And as for the guidelines, did the Governor ever offer detailed information as to his commitment to send state officials to operating attractions and parks to investigate how they are operating? If so, when did they go? Where did they go? Did they draw information from these visits when composing the guidelines?

October 20, 2020 at 7:54 AM

>> They "understand"? What the he'll does that mean?

It means they haven’t been told directly, but someone else has shared the information... the quality of that information could be anything from clear evidence to gossip.

October 20, 2020 at 8:23 AM

@ChadH: If that's the case it sure is a half-assed way to issue a public statement ... without having any sort of factual basis to assess the state's efforts, methodology or intentions.

October 20, 2020 at 9:03 AM

Not sure if half assed is the right way... it’s a way to respond to something, perhaps even respond to speculation before it’s announced. Getting your revenge in first, as it were.

October 20, 2020 at 9:08 AM

Okay ... then it's "weak-ass" and not "half-assed".

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