ORLANDO, Fla. - An online petition asking Walt Disney World officials to delay the reopening of the parks amid the coronavirus pandemic has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures.
The theme parks shut down in mid-March and are getting ready to reopen starting July 11. Reopening would bring back tens of thousands of furloughed employees, but many who signed the petition say the parks aren't ready to bring back guests.
The MoveOn.org petition states that the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in Florida show that "it is clear that theme parks – a non-essential business – should not be planning to operate until the cases have gone down again."
As of Thursday morning, the petition had over 9,400 signatures and growing.
“This virus is not gone, unfortunately, it’s only become worse in this state,” reads the petition. “While theme parks are a great way to relax and enjoy free time, it is a non-essential business; it is not fair to the people who work there to risk their lives, especially if they are at risk or have family members who are at risk. People are more important than making a profit. Mayors, theme park executives, government officials — please hear what we are saying.”
On Wednesday, theme park officials announced that Disneyland will not reopen on July 17th as previously announced.
Disney is still negotiating with unions that work at Disneyland, who are concerned about public health due to COVID-19.
A statement released on Twitter said, "The state of California has now indicated that it will not issue theme park reopening guidelines until sometime after July 4," Disneyland officials said.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the state saw its biggest single-day jump in reported cases on Wednesday, adding more than 5,000. That brings the total to 109,014 cases of COVID-19 statewide.
Eric Clinton, president of the Unite Here Local 362 union that represents Disney workers, told the Orlando Sentinel that most of the workers he has talked with are “pretty excited” about returning to work.
“Disney Springs has been open for over a month, and I haven’t heard of one news report or one cast member or one guest saying, ‘I got COVID 19,'" he told the publication.
The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks will begin a phased reopening on July 11, with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopening on July 15.
Disney has released details of the safety protocols that will be in place for guests and cast members when the parks reopen. Some of the measures include:
- Face mask requirements for guests 2 and older
- Mandatory temperatures checks
- No park hopping
- No parades or fireworks shows
- 'Social Distancing Squad' to roam the parks encouraging social distancing
Universal Orlando Resort reopened to guests on June 5. SeaWorld Orlando reopened on June 11.