Disneyland reopening on hold as California delays theme park guidelines

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California’s health secretary on Friday agreed to hear more input from theme park operators before issuing reopening guidelines, a step that further delays Walt Disney Co’s plans to welcome visitors back to Disneyland.

Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger also resigned from a California task force on reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported late on Thursday. No reason was given and Disney did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, Disney said the continued closure of Disneyland had exacerbated the financial strain on its parks division from the pandemic. The company, which is in the process of laying off 28,000 employees, has urged California to let Disneyland reopen.

On Thursday, a trade group that represents Disneyland, Comcast Corp’s Universal Studios and others, said it had reviewed California’s draft guidelines and then asked the state to hear more recommendations from the industry.

On Friday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, said he would continue talks with theme park operators.

“Given the size and operational complexities of these unique sectors, we are seeking additional input from health, workforce and business stakeholders to finalize this important framework – all leading with science and safety,” Ghaly said in a statement.

Disneyland has been closed since March. The company had announced the resort would reopen on July 17 but later delayed the move indefinitely, saying it had to wait for the state’s guidance.

All other Disney theme parks, including Walt Disney World in Florida, have reopened with limited attendance, mask requirements and other safety measures.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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