Governor Newsom Refuses to Say “Disneyland” in Latest COVID-19 Update, Remains Firm on Current Reopening Guidelines

Another week, another State of California COVID-19 press conference with the inevitable question on theme park reopenings. When asked today about the repercussions of businesses remaining closed surrounding Disneyland and why the theme park could not reopen sooner, Governor Gavin Newsom remained firm in his beliefs that to reopen such a large theme park could lead to widespread transmission of the pandemic within the state, if not nationwide.

Citing increased transmission rates of COVID-19 in California and throughout the United States, Newsom stated that that in and of itself should be alarming. As cold weather and snow begins in some parts of the nation, California has been struck with even more wildfires—all of which leads to more people congregating indoors, creating optimal conditions for spread of the virus.

We should be concerned about opening up a large theme park where by definition people mix from every conceivable walk of life and put themselves and others at increased risk of seeing transmission rates rise.

Virus concerns aside, however, Newsom was very careful in picking his words, opting to avoid referencing Disneyland or the Disney brand itself and instead generalizing, referring to it as a large theme park. The governor has had his fair share of run-ins with Disney officials by way of public statements going back and forth on the reopening of the theme parks.

You bring up one particular operator of a theme park that does things very, very differently than other operators of other theme parks… so you have to design and you have to distinguish and you have to organize not only a response, but your guidelines in a way that addresses those unique dynamics, unique background rates, county-by-county.

The governor does, however, admit that Disney does “do things differently” than other theme parks, a potential nod to their stringent health and safety guidelines, or perhaps another jab in relation to Disney openly admonishing his guidelines. With the holidays in front of us and the concerns brought up by experts worldwide for a second or third wave, however, Newsom seems set on keeping with the established guidelines.

And so, respectfully… deep respect, because I understand, again as someone with four young kids, the reverential identity they have with that one particular brand and their desire to be entertained and the desire of those that rightfully want to get their jobs back, and to get back some sense of normalcy… forgive me, but we as a state are going to be driven by data and science, and we’re going to be driven by public health first.

Currently, major theme parks like Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood can only open in the Tier 4 “Minimal” yellow phase, meaning they could remain shuttered well into 2021, depending on transmission rates. Disneyland Resort plans to mitigate the extended closure by opening a portion of Disney California Adventure’s Buena Vista Street for shopping and dining in November.

You can watch today’s full press conference in the embedded video below: