Walt Disney World will begin to reopen this weekend, a representative for the company has confirmed. Taking a cue from U.S. President Donald Trump, it seems corporate America is gearing up to reopen more aggressively, including places like movie theaters and theme parks, where the threat of spiking COVID-19 cases doesn't seem to be discouraging companies from banking on large crowds to get the economy running again. Florida governor Ron DeSantis is among the politicians most bullish about reopening, and soaring coronavirus cases across the United States have not convinced him to reconsider the position. DeSantis promsies tourists that Disney has put a premium on safety as they reopen.
After reopening faster than almost any state in the union, Florida saw a single-day record of more than 11,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus this weekend. Nevertheless, DeSantis says that Universal Studios reopened last month with enhanced safety procedures and has not been part of the larger problem in the state.
Amid the concerns, Disney told The Hollywood Reporter that "a large portion of the Walt Disney World Resort will partially reopen this weekend," even against the backdrop of thousands of new cases and hundreds of American deaths per day in a pandemic that has now cost more than 130,000 American lives. More than 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the country since the pandemic began in March.
"Disney, I have no doubt is going to be a safe environment," DeSantis said. "I think that where you start to see the spread is just in social situations where people let their guard down. Usually like a private party or something like that."
Besides the reopening of the Magic Kingdom, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will play host to the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer when they conclude their 2019 seasons, beginning later this month.
Miami-Dade County, one of the most populous counties in Florida, has been rolling back some of their reopening steps amid a surge in cases. The state of California has had to do the same thing, and some are expecting that other parts of the country where cases are spiking might have to do the same. The California closures have had an impact on Disneyland, which doesn't yet have a firm reopening date due to stricter guidelines in California than they have in Florida. Expect Florida's reopening to have a pretty profound impact on Disney's California plans.
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