Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) clashed today with California's governor Gavin Newsom about the reopening schedule of the state's theme parks and similar attractions.
Newsom stated that the California legislature feels "there's no hurry to put out guidelines" for park reopenings, and that he doesn't "anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data," as reported by Hollywood news source Deadline.
Disney reacted strongly to the governor's commentary. Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel tweeted, "We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a 'health-first' approach."
She went on to say Disney's COVID-19 safety measures for its parks were worked out with epidemiologists and used guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. Dr. Hymel added that Disney's other theme parks "have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols" both domestically and abroad.
California Attractions and Parks Association Executive Director Erin Guerrero also issued a statement: "California's amusement parks are ready to responsibly reopen." Guerrero called Gavin's statement "unreasonable," and said that his "'no big rush' approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work."
The backlash over Newsom's statements comes the same day Disney said it will lay off 8,800 part-time theme park workers. Last Wednesday, Disney said it would lay off 28,000 workers, but union negotiations have since limited the pink slips to part-time workers only and made even those layoffs potentially nonpermanent.