Visitors will have to forget about close encounters with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck once the Walt Disney World theme parks reopen. There will also be no fireworks displays or parades - events that draw crowds - and visitors and employees alike will undergo temperature checks at the entrance.
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Despite the huge increase in coronavirus infections among the Florida population in recent weeks, two of the four Disney World amusement parks are preparing to reopen on Saturday. When they do, those who visit "the most magical place on the planet" should adhere to the new guidelines.
Everyone is required to wear face masks and respect social distancing. For now, it will not be allowed to go from one park to another on the same day, and the public must schedule their visit through a reservation system. Disney employees will not be able to photograph visitors in front of Cinderella Castle, since that involves touching tourists' cameras.
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"This is a very different Disney World than the one they worked in March, and this is due to the need for security," said Eric Clinton, president of the Unite Here! Local 362, to its affiliates in a recent conversation on Facebook.
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks will reopen on July 11. The other two Disney World theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will receive the public four days later. All parks closed in mid-March in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. Rival parks in the same city, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, also closed in March but reopened for several weeks after implementing similar measures to protect employees and customers from COVID-19.
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This month the NBA and MLS will restart their seasons at Disney World, which has a huge sports complex with several arenas.
Disney has been reopening its parks worldwide for the past two months. In May, the company opened Disney Springs, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex in Lake Buena Vista. Only Disneyland in California delayed its plans to reopen in mid-July on the grounds that it was awaiting regulations from state authorities.
The union representing Disney World actors wants Florida parks to do the same until workers can be tested regularly. Florida and other states in the so-called Belt of the Sun have recently seen increases in coronavirus cases, and unlike Disney employees, singers and actors are not allowed to wear face masks during their performances.
For the parks to reopen, "the epidemic must be under control with contact tracing ... and this is not the case in Florida," said Brandon Lorenz, a spokesman for the actors' union. “We do not believe that the workplace plan is safe. It presents risks not only for workers but for visitors. ”
Leaders of other unions are confident in the new security measures. Clinton, whose associates are security, cleaning and reception staff at the parks, said that visiting Disney World is now safer than going to the supermarket.
Will I be safe at work? The short answer to that is yes, ”he assured the union members.
Firefighters and paramedics serving Disney World expect to see more cases of heat-related conditions as visitors will be required to wear face masks at all times.
Disney World employees have been in the parks for several weeks, reviewing hygiene protocols to slow the spread of the virus, disinfecting handrails and equipment, and getting used to other changes, such as new rest rooms where they can now only meet four people at the same time.
In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. In some people, especially older adults and those with pre-existing health problems, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, and even death.