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Disneyland unions push back against reopening amid pandemic

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Unions representing Disneyland workers are pushing back on plans to reopen the theme park next month as cases of coronavirus surge across the country.

The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions sent an open letter last week to California Gov. Gavin Newsom that cited health concerns for workers and park guests alike as Disney seeks state clearance to reopen.

Disney, which closed its US parks in late March, earlier this month set plans to reopen Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., beginning with the downtown shopping and dining district on July 9. Pending state and local government approvals, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park will be opening July 17.

Disney last week posted a response to the union’s health concerns from Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disney Parks chief medical officer, who told guests the parks were taking a “multi-pronged approach” under guidance from government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The park’s hotels are slated to reopen July 23. Disney World  in Orlando, Fla., is also slated to reopen next month.

“At both parks, this includes reducing capacity; temperature checks for guests prior to entering our theme parks; increasing cleaning and disinfecting, especially in high-traffic areas; adjusting experiences to accommodate physical distancing; requiring face coverings for guests 2 and older; and empowering our guests with options like contactless payments and easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer locations,” Hymel wrote.

Despite such measures, “there are numerous questions about safety which Disney has not yet answered,” according to the June 18 letter, which was signed by 10 Disneyland union presidents. Those questions, according to the letter, include “any serious discussion of ‘testing’ – which has been the cornerstone of plans for other areas of the entertainment industry reopening.”

“Unfortunately, despite intensive talks with the company, we are not yet convinced that it is safe to reopen the parks on Disney’s rapid timetable,” the letter said.

A separate online petition began circulating on Change.org, calling for Disney to push the reopening to a later date this year has gained nearly 50,000 signatures.

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