More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling on Disney executives and Florida officials to reevaluate their plan to reopen Disney World in July amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Disney World plans to begin a phased reopening on July 11 for the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. EPCOT and Hollywood Studios are set to reopen on July 15.
But on Wednesday, Florida broke its daily record with more than 5,500 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. The state’s total number of cases is now over 109,000, according to figures from the Florida Department of Health.
Florida’s previous record with 4,049 COVID-19 cases was set on Saturday. More than 3,200 people have died from the disease in the state. The increase is thought to be linked to more testing as well as the relaxing of social distancing measures and reopening of businesses.
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“This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state,” the MoveOn.org petition says. “Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe … People are more important than making a profit.”
The petition notes that theme parks aren’t essential businesses and that it’s unfair for workers to risk their lives or risk endangering their loved ones by returning to work amid the resurgence of positive cases.
If reopening is delayed, it’s unclear whether workers would continue to seek unemployment benefits while the parks remain closed. A request for comment from the petition organizer was not returned.
Disney has worked with local officials on its plan to reopen but those plans were announced in May, before the recent spike in cases seen in many states as they reopen.
It’s already reopened its Shanghai Disneyland park and its Disney Springs entertainment complex, which is located in Florida near Disney World.
As it currently stands, Disney plans to reopen its 12 global theme parks by mid-July.
“The safety and well being of our cast members and guests are at the forefront of our planning, and we are in active dialogue with our unions on the extensive health and safety protocols, following guidance from public health experts, which we plan to implement as we move toward our proposed, phased reopening,” Disney said in a statement to CNBC.
When locations reopen, they do so with enhanced safety measures, including more cleaning, contactless experiences and physical distancing. Face coverings will be required for park guests and workers and some parks may require people to undergo temperature screenings before entering.
But Disney is also facing pushback on its plans to reopen Disneyland in California on July 17. A change.org petition to delay reopening the theme park has been signed by nearly 50,000 people. Each state has its own multi-stage reopening plan, but Florida is further along in its plan.