Today, Orange County in California hosted a news conference to provide an update on the county’s reopening initiatives in the wake of the global pandemic. The news conference follows what has been several rocky days between the state of California and the Disneyland Resort, after Governor Gavin Newsom noted that he is in “no hurry” to release theme park guidelines. Disney promptly issued a response to the governor’s remarks later that evening.
During a question and answer session with reporters, Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer, was asked about the reopening of theme parks and if there was any concern that the parks could become a “super-spreader site.” His response highlights the work that he and Dr. Mark Zahn, Dr. Mark Zahn, Medical Director of the Division of Epidemiology at the County Health Care Agency have done with Disneyland over the past several weeks and months.
A reporter asked Dr. Chau, “Are you not concerned that opening up some place like Disneyland could become a super-spreader site where you have people coming from all over the country potentially, perhaps transmitting or catching COVID, and that could also include the staff, the people who work at Disneyland and these places, many of whom I think live in the areas directly surrounding it, which already have some of the highest test positivity rates?”
Dr. Chau responded by noting that “We have been working very closely with Disneyland on their proposed reopening plan.” In regards to Disneyland’s exact reopening plans, Dr. Chau said, “As far as we know, their plan is pretty solid as how they’re going to control the number of people that they would allow to visit their theme parks, as well as the process that they have put in place, mimicking what they have done in other areas and also controlling who would be the first wave of visitors that they would allow to come and enjoy the park.”
Dr. Chau included remarks about the active work currently being done by the county and Disneyland. He said, “Of course, we have dialogue back and forth with Disneyland…yesterday…we had a one hour meeting with Disneyland again, despite not knowing when the park would be open but we continue to work with them in their process in how to safety reopen the theme park.”
Dr. Chau continues, “We made recommendations when Dr. Zahn and I had a visit, and did a walk-through at the parks a week ago, and they already came back with a plan on how they’re going to adjust and modify our suggestion, and you will see some of those suggestions actually will be implemented right away at Downtown Disney.”
Despite the active work being done, Dr. Chau pointed out, “Ultimately, I am aware that the decision is based on the Governor and Department of Human and Health Services in California as well as the California Department of Public Health. Dr. Zahn and I have participated in conversations with those agencies and Disneyland on several occasions.”
Dr. Chau concluded his response by saying, “Rest assured…we’re very aware of the risk, but the risk is everywhere, and we strongly believe that if we plan it well, and if the community and the visitors coming into Orange County follow the strict non-medical public health prevention such as wear a mask, frequently clean your hands and sanitization procedures, and stay home if your sick, etc., that we can do this, because it’s been proven to work in other countries. We’re not the only one. So this has been proven to work, we just need the community to really follow that guidelines in order for us to safely reopen our economy and businesses.”
Currently, there is no reopening date announced for the Disneyland Resort. Upcoming reservations with arrivals through October 24th are being canceled, and new reservations are being accepted for check in dates starting on November 1st, though this is no guarantee that the parks and hotels will reopen at that time.
We will continue to keep a close watch on all of the news coming out of the Disneyland Resort and the state of California, and we will keep you informed as soon as we learn more!
Click here to read about Disney’s response to Governor Gavin Newsom concerning the reopening of the Disneyland Resort.
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Did you have plans to visit the Disneyland Resort in 2020? Share your experience with us in the comments.