Governor Gavin Newsom delays releasing theme park reopening guidelines amid criticism from industry leaders

Noble Horvath

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) — Reopening guidelines for theme parks in California were supposed to be released Friday, but Gov. Gavin Newsom delayed revealing new operating rules amid criticism from industry leaders. Theme park industry leaders in California say they aren’t pleased with proposed reopening guidance being considered by Newsom’s administration. […]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) — Reopening guidelines for theme parks in California were supposed to be released Friday, but Gov. Gavin Newsom delayed revealing new operating rules amid criticism from industry leaders.

Theme park industry leaders in California say they aren’t pleased with proposed reopening guidance being considered by Newsom’s administration.

Erin Guerrero, executive director of the California Attractions and Parks Association, says amusement park leaders wanted changes to a draft they reviewed on Thursday and asked Newsom to continue conversations with industry leaders before finalizing the rules.

Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told the Sacramento Bee the state planned to release the guidance Friday. But following industry criticism of the proposed rules, state health officials said no announcement was coming Friday as negotiations continue.

According to a spokesperson with Newsom’s office, the state held off the release of the new rules planned for the end of the work week, following criticism of an initial draft from industry leaders.

RELATED: When will Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm reopen? Anaheim officials expect guidelines soon

“Given the size and operational complexities of these unique sectors, we are seeking additional input from health, workforce and business stakeholders to finalize this important framework,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top public health official, said in a statement.

The delay comes as Walt Disney Company Executive Chairman Bob Iger’s abruptly resigned from Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force.

There is mounting pressure from elected officials and industry leaders to let theme parks reopen in California.

Amusement parks have been closed across the state for over six months, weighing heavily on the local economy.

RELATED: ‘We will not open until Disney does’: Worries among Anaheim business owners heightened by Disney layoffs

Business owners in the Anaheim area were further worried by Disney’s announcement that it will lay off about 28,000 employees in its Parks, Experiences and Products division.

Subway restaurant owner, Rick Cerney, is one of the few still hanging in there at a strip mall less than a mile from Disney’s theme parks. He said his shop, which relies on the park’s tourism, has been operating at a loss.

“If Disney opens, the hotels open. Even if they’re at 50%, we’ll be okay, but at 0% — that’s not good,” Cerney said.

The Desert Palms Hotel and Suites has been empty since mid-March, according to General Manager Fred Brown, down from 80 employees to three.

“We will not open until Disney does open,” Brown said.

The general manager says nearly three quarters of his business comes from the Anaheim theme parks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC7.

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