June 27, 2020 / 9:56 PM / 6 days ago

Some Disneyland workers protest reopening plans amid pandemic

ANAHEIM, Calif., June 26 (Reuters) - Workers at California’s Disneyland Resort protested from their cars on Saturday, arguing that the Walt Disney Co has not agreed to adequate protections for employees when the destination reopens to the public amid a pandemic.

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

Disney said this week that it would set a new opening date after the state issues guidelines on how theme parks can return to business safely amid the global coronavirus outbreak. That is not expected until after July 4, the company said.

On Saturday, about 200 cars formed a caravan outside the resort in the protest staged by the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions, a group of 11 unions that represent 17,000 Disneyland workers.

The unions have called on the company to commit to providing onsite testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“When Disney does reopen, we want it to be as safe as possible for cast members, for the guests, and for the families that cast members have to go back to,” said Maria Hernandez, a union member who attended the rally.

Disney did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Saturday. In a letter to unions earlier this week, a Disney representative said existing COVID-19 testing was not recommended by U.S. health authorities for routine screening.

Instead, health officials recommend focusing on physical distancing, face coverings, hand washing and sanitization, the letter said.

The company has reached an agreement on coronavirus protections with other Disneyland unions that represent 11,000 workers. Those agreements include “enhanced safety protocols that will allow us to responsibly reopen,” the company said.

Disney began shutting its theme parks in January as 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; Writing by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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