Newsom did not offer an explanation for why theme parks in the state could not open, but said during a press conference that California “is in no hurry in putting out guidelines” that would aid the reopening process.
Disney announced last week that it would lay off more than 28,000 employees due to the continued shutdown.
In a letter to employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience, and Products, blamed California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” for the job losses.
But Newsom—who faced harsh criticism for allowing his own winery to remain open during the lockdowns—insisted that the situation was “very complex” and that state officials do not anticipate allowing any larger theme parks to reopen in the immediate term, reported the California Globe.
“There’s disagreements in terms of opening a major theme park,” Newsom said.
“We’re going to let science and data make that determination,” he continued. “I understand the dialectic, the friction, that many business leaders have that they want to move forward sectorally to reopen, but we are going to be led by a health-first framework and we’re going to be stubborn about it.”
Just last month, however, Newsom alluded that amusement park reopening guidelines were imminent.
“We will be making announcements soon as it relates to theme parks and amusement parks,” he said. “I am not here today to make that presentation, but want folks to know we are actively working in a number of sectors.”
The chief medical officer for Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products slammed Newsom in a statement, arguing that Disney has gone above and beyond to make sure its parks are prioritizing the health of its visitors.
“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a ‘health-first’ approach,” Dr. Pamela Hymel said in a statement.
“The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe,” she continued. “Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and experts in local government and health agencies.”
— Disney Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) October 8, 2020
Hymel pointed out that every single other Disney facility in the U.S. and around the world has been allowed to reopen, and not one has experienced a health crisis.
This proves “our ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols,” Hymel added.
Forcing California’s theme parks to remain closed will crush one of the state’s most valuable industries, said Erin Guerrero, executive director of the California Attractions and Parks Association.
“We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon,” Guerrero said.
“Each day that parks are closed further decimates the amusement park industry,” she continued. “The Governor’s ‘no big rush’ approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”