LOS ANGELES — Disneyland and other large theme parks in the Golden State won’t be reopening anytime soon, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
In fact, he said the state “is in no hurry in putting out guidelines,” the rules that theme parks would need to operate safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage. His grim pronouncement marked a turnabout from last month, when Newsom said he expected the guidelines to be issued “very, very shortly” as the state negotiated with the industry.
Newsom’s latest declaration comes as a blow to Disneyland and to the city of Anaheim, east of Los Angeles, where what is normally the Happiest Place on Earth is the largest employer.
“We don’t anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger theme parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data,” Newsom said at a news conference.
Besides the Disneyland Resort complex, which also includes the California Adventure theme park, southern California is also home to Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld San Diego.
More: Disneyland, Universal Studios at odds with California over expected theme park guidelines
Disneyland has been shuttered since March, when businesses across the country shut down in response to the pandemic. While Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, reopened with reduced capacity in July, Anaheim’s Disneyland has remained closed even as California has seen a gradual reduction in the number of new COVID-19 infections and deaths.
A trade group presenting theme parks, the California Attractions and Parks Association, said there is no reason for the attractions to remain closed when there is ample evidence they can reopen safely.
“We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon,” wrote Executive Director Erin Guerrero.
Matt Damon rides the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland in this 2015 file photo
Disneyland and Anaheim officials have been trying to step up the pressure on Newsom to issue the guidelines. “As soon as a date and those guidelines are set, I can tell you, we’re ready,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s parks, products and experiences unit, told Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association trade group, in August.
More: Disneyland ‘ready’ to reopen when California allows; Florida governor OK with raising park capacity
They haven’t come soon enough to hold back staff reductions. Disney announced Sept. 29 that it is laying off 28,000 theme-park division workers in Florida and in California.
A month ago, state guidelines looked like they were days away. Newsom said, “We will be making announcements soon as it relates to theme parks and amusement parks.” But they never came.
More: At least a quarter of Disney’s 28,000 layoffs will be coming from Florida
On Wednesday, he said science and data will determine when it’s safe to reopen amusement parks, which he likened to small cities in their complexity when it comes to safety.
“We are going to be led by a health-first framework and we’re going to be stubborn about it and that’s our commitment,” Newsom said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disneyland: California Gov. Newsom slows push to reopen theme parks