Walt Disney (DIS 4.44%) executives say they are looking to China for guidance on how to minimize the spread of the coronavirus at their theme parks.
"You can't get on a bus or a subway or a train or enter a high-rise building [in China] ... without having your temperature taken," said Executive Chairman Bob Iger in a recent Barron's interview. Once Disney World and Disneyland reopen to the public, that could become true at Disney theme parks, too.
Iger, who stepped down from his CEO role in late February, explained that Disney's execs are "optimists, although we're also obviously realists, too." So, while the company is looking forward to the day when the novel coronavirus has been mostly defeated and Disney is allowed to reopen its parks to the general public, Disney is also thinking about how to ensure customer safety, and reassure visitors to its parks that it's safe to visit.
Key to both objectives could be imitating China's policy of checking visitor temperatures before admission, to confirm they're not running a fever that could indicate a COVID-19 infection.
"Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people's temperatures, as a for-instance," Iger said.
Iger admitted this may mean guests have to wait a little longer to get in to its parks. But if it also means that visitors feel safer inside, that should help bring customers back to Disney.
Half an hour after trading opened on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, Walt Disney stock was down 1.3%.