ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As Florida begins its first phase of reopening the economy in the wake of the corornavirus crisis, many are wondering when theme parks like Disney World and Universal Orlando will start to do the same.
- Florida theme parks not ready to share reopening dates yet
- Working group of Orange County task force met again Monday
- Theme parks have been closed since mid-March in response to coronavirus
- RELATED: Universal's new Epic Universe park delayed due to coronavirus
A working group within the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force met again Monday morning to discuss additional plans for reopening businesses in the county.
During the meeting, the working group's co-chair, Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp National Developments, asked the theme park representatives to weigh in on possible reopening dates.
Thomas Mazloum, senior VP of Disney World Resorts and Transportation, responded by saying that Disney World didn't have updates to share about a reopening date.
"We do not have any opening date yet," Mazloum said. "As some of you may know, at this point we're taking bookings that were in June, that doesn't mean we're opening in June. At this time, I just want to make it clear that we don't have any plans to share about Walt Disney World or for that matter any of our other parks at this point."
Rich Costales, executive VP of resort operations at Universal Orlando, was also on the call and expressed the same sentiments.
"Quite a while ago, we did announce that we would be closed through May 31," Costales said. "And really we haven't made a decision as to when exactly we would open back up our theme parks and really can't do that until we hear what government and health officials recommend and how this phasing will eventually roll out."
Similarly, SeaWorld Orlando has not announced a reopening date at this time.
Under Gov. Ron DeSantis' phase one reopening plan that kicks off Monday in all but three South Florida counties hardest hit by the pandemic, restaurants and retail stores are allowed to operate at 25% capacity indoors. They are also allowed to offer outdoor seating with six feet of space between tables. In the final report shared last week, the governor's task force also recommended that theme parks consider reopening in phase two.
No timeline for phase two has been provided, with DeSantis saying he wants to wait how phase one progresses before setting firm dates.
Whenever the parks do reopen, they could implement a number of health and safety measures for employees as well as guests. For the past week, government officials and theme park leaders in the state have been sharing ideas on possible guidelines, including reduced capacity, temperature checks for workers, and social distancing in ride queues.
Temperature checks for employees have already begun at Universal Orlando, which started the practice Friday for workers and contractors who arrive at the property.
The theme parks closed in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The parks furloughed thousands of workers in the weeks following the ongoing closures.
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