Though the saga of California theme parks versus California's Governor continues, this time there's some good news in the ongoing back-and-forth. In a new press conference this afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed that he's assembling a team to travel to Disney World in Orlando, Florida to have a look at how the park is handling operations during the ongoing pandemic, and to perhaps assess how these could be put into practice for the Golden State. Disney World re-opened at reduced capacity back in July, and there's yet to be a cast of COVID-19 officially linked to any guests that visited the Disney parks.
“I have a whole team that spends their time not only getting the answer to that question, but asking those same questions,” Newsom said (H/T The Hollywood Reporter). “And so this week, as a proof point of that, we have supported an effort to actually find out directly by sending our own team to these sites, as relates to theme parks, to get a better sense of what's going on. While we absolutely take people's word for information that they provide us, we want to see things for ourselves.”
It's unclear who will compose Newsom's team for the Florida visit, but they might not limit themselves to visiting just Disney World but also jump over to Universal Studios too. Among the protocols in place at the park include: frequent enhanced cleaning of targeted areas, easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer dispensers, end of day sanitation procedures for restroom & kitchen, frequent cleaning and "wash down" of outdoor locations (including walkways and queues), and mandatory mask use (with specific areas where masks may be removed).
This news comes after Newsom previously said that Disneyland and other parks wouldn't be open any time soon and with the state of California taking its time setting new guidelines to open these attractions safely. Disney however didn't buy his statement last week, saying that they rejected the suggestion "that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a 'health-first' approach."
"The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe," Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel said. "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 experts in local governments and health agencies. All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols."
The state of California apparently wants to see those protocols in action before making any definitive guidelines of their own.