Disneyland: California Mayors Warn Governor Amusement Parks Could Remain Closed for Next Year

A group of California mayors wrote to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday formally asking for the reopening of the state's amusement parks. Last month, Newsom and his administration unveiled stringent benchmarks municipalities needed to reach before their parks were allowed to reopen to the masses. In a letter penned collaboratively amongst the mayors, it was warned the likes of Disneyland could remain closed for the next year or more under the current guidelines.

"The guidelines put forth by your Administration were released within the framework of prioritizing public health and safety for guests and employees," the letter reads (via THR). "This is the right focus. However, economic and public health are not mutually exclusive goals. We are concerned that the state’s guidelines would push re-opening of large theme parks up to a year out, which would have significant negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of small businesses, and billions in operating revenue for our cities.”

It adds, "As you may have recently seen, labor unions and employee groups representing many of the workers at these theme parks have joined in calls for a timely, safe reopening. This call is a result of their direct knowledge of the health and safety protocols, and their need to get back to work. We therefore respectfully request that your Administration work with our most impacted coalition members – Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego – to continue the discussion of how we can maintain a health-first focus while modifying protocols to allow large theme parks to open in Tier Three with reduced capacity, rather than Tier Four."

The letter was signed by Mayors Harry Sidhu (Anaheim), Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), Kevin Faulconer (San Diego), Sam Liccardo (San Jose), Lee Brand (Fresno), Karen Goh (Bakersfield), Rusty Bailey (Riverside), and Miguel Pulido (Santa Ana).

Under the new rules, counties with amusement parks must be able to reach Tier 4, or the "Yellow" level, before its theme parks are allowed to reopen with 25-percent capacity. Los Angeles County is currently Tier 1, or the "purple" level. Orange County is at Tier 2, or the "Red" level.

With shutdowns between both Disney World and Disneyland, Disney was forced to lay off upwards of 28,000 employees earlier this fall. At the time, Disney Parks chairman Josh D'Amaro release a statement largely blaming California's restrictions for the layoffs.

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"In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying healthcare benefits. Approximately 28,000 domestic employees will be affected, of which about 67% are part-time. We are talking with impacted employees as well as to the unions on next steps for union-represented Cast Members," D'Amaro's statement said.

Cover photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images