Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 3 August 2020

Disney World reopens in Florida despite spike in Covid-19 cases – in pictures

The theme park has put new safety rules in place, including temperature checks and mandatory use of masks, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

Walt Disney World in Orlando reopened on Saturday as the US hit a new record in the number of Covid-19 cases, with Florida becoming the new epicentre.

For more than three months, Disney’s flagship theme park was closed due to the pandemic. It was the first in line for the company’s phased reopening, with the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks now open, to be followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

Disney has introduced safety measures to reduce the risk of spreading the disease, including temperature checks upon entry and the mandatory use of face coverings, unless one is swimming, eating or drinking. Disney employees are also required to wear masks.

There will be increased disinfection of common spaces and frequently touched surfaces.

Visitors must make reservations online beforehand to ensure entry, and they will not be allowed to go between the different parks.

The reopening is not without its critics. Around 19,000 people, among them workers at the park, signed a petition asking Disney to delay the reopening. In addition, the actors' union that represents 750 Walt Disney World performers has filed a grievance against the company, claiming retaliation against members over the union's demands to be tested for Covid-19.

Weeks into the global shutdowns caused by the pandemic, Disney Co suffered a total loss of $1.4 billion across its theme parks, retail stores and TV operations, as revealed in its financial results in May. By reopening Disney World, the company hopes to allay some of that damage.

However, coronavirus cases in the state continue to climb, with daily death rates approaching their worst period in early May. On Friday, deaths had reached 4,102, along with 11,433 new cases. Confirmed cases in the state are now up to 240,000.

Across the US, new infections are also on the rise, breaking single-day records with 68,000 new cases on Friday. The total number of cases in the US is up to 3.4 million.

In California, Disneyland, the company’s other major attraction, remains closed. Its reopening has been delayed beyond July as Governor Gavin Newsom has urged a slowing down of the lifting of restrictions. A new date has yet to be announced.

Updated: July 13, 2020 08:46 AM

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