Even with a growing number of Covid-19 cases in the state, Walt Disney World will be reopening in Orlando, Florida.
The Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, pandemic has hit Disney very hard. Theme parks of the company across the world have been forced to shut down, operate its sports channel ESPN without live games from major U.S. sports leagues and postpone its film openings.
However the streaming service of the company, Disney+, was one bright spot for the company, saw a 74 per cent increase in the number of app downloads before the release last week of the filmed stage production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” featuring the musical’s original cast.
Last year, about 37 per cent of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue last year was accounted for by its parks and therefore it is the top priority for the company.
The major competitors of the company, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, have already opened up with limited capacity in Orlando.
Disney was among the first parks to close in the state in mid-March and will be one of the last to reopen.
Potential guests and experts are still apprehensive of whether Disney World should reopen its gates to the public despite extensive safety procedures and approval from local government, and even while the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extended Florida’s state of emergency for another 60 days on Tuesday.
Apparently, the massive increase in coronavirus cases in Florida was the reason for the increased scrutiny on Disney in particular. According to the Florida Department of Health, almost 114,000 new cases were reported in the last two weeks. Additionally, there is virtually no more space left in their intensive care units in dozens of hospitals in the state.
“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of the pandemic, with cases now exceeding 3 million in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ravina Kullar, a Los Angeles-based infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist and spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “Data has shown us that SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks have happened from people screaming, talking loudly, and coughing and sneezing.”
The theme parks should remain closed until there is a decrease in cases because they will be a “breeding ground” for Covid-19 transmission, Kullar said.
“We are in the middle of pandemic, we need to think about what is important to open and what is not important to open,” Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an Atlanta-based infectious diseases specialist, said. “I think the world survives just fine without Disney.”
Confidence in its plans and safety measures has been expressed by Disney despite the growing public concern.
Agreements to return under Disney’s new safety protocols, have already been signed by unions representing 48,000 Disney employees in Florida. The new safety protocols include a mandatory mask policy, temperature checks, empty seats on rides and the addition of around 4,000 sanitation stations within its parks and shopping centers.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)