Some Disneyland workers protest plans to reopen amid pandemic

ANAHEIM, California (Reuters) – Workers at California’s Disneyland Resort protested from their cars on Saturday, arguing that Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) has not agreed on adequate protections for employees when the destination is reopened to the public amid a pandemic.

The Resort Labor Unions Coalition representing Disney cast members organize a motorcade of cars outside of Disneyland California, calling for higher safety standards for Disneyland to reopen during the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) in Anaheim, California, USA, June 27, 2020 REUTERS / Mike Blake

The company had planned to welcome guests to Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure beginning July 17, but delayed the restart date indefinitely.

Disney said this week it would set a new opening date after the state issues guidelines on how theme parks can safely re-operate amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, about 200 cars formed a caravan outside the complex in a protest organized by the Resort Union Coalition, a group of 11 unions representing 17,000 Disneyland workers.

Unions have asked the company to commit to providing on-site testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“When Disney reopens, we want it to be as safe as possible for the cast members, for the guests, and for the families that the cast members have to return to,” said Maria Hernandez, a union member who attended the manifestation.

Disney said in a statement Saturday that it has reached agreements on coronavirus protections with 20 union members that include additional sick pay, facial coverage for guests and cast members, and the park’s reduced capacity.

In a letter to unions earlier this week, a Disney representative said that US health authorities did not recommend existing COVID-19 tests for routine exams.

Instead, health officials recommend focusing on physical distancing, face coverage, hand washing, and disinfection, according to the letter.

Disney began closing its theme parks in January when the coronavirus spread. It has reopened parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong to a limited number of guests. The company plans to open Walt Disney World in Florida on July 11.

Reporting by Mike Blake in Anaheim, California; Written by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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