(Reuters) – Petitioners are pressing Disney to delay the July 11 reopening of its Orlando, Florida-based Walt Disney World, citing recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in the state.
By Wednesday, more than 7,000 people had signed the petition, which was created by Katie Belisle, a Disney World Attractions hostess, and addressed to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
“This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state,” the petition says. “Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe.”
Belisle could not immediately be reached for comment.
Walt Disney Co parks have been closed since January to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The company had estimated it lost $1 billion at its theme parks division from January through March.
“The safety and wellbeing of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we are in active dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement.
The Florida petition follows similar pushback from unions representing workers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which is planning to reopen on July 17. In a June 18 letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, the unions said it is still unsafe to open the park. Over 49,500 people have signed a Change.org petition urging Disney to reopen the park at a later date.
Disney has already reopened its Shanghai Disneyland theme park and has partially reopened its Disney Springs entertainment and shopping complex. Disneyland Paris will begin a phased reopening on July 15.
When Disney World reopens, guests and employees will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. The resort will suspend parades, fireworks displays and other activities that create crowds. Disney plans to restrict the number of guests, who will be required to reserve their park passes ahead of time.
(Reporting by Helen Coster; editing by Jonathan Oatis)