Despite Push-back From Actors Equity, Tens of Thousands of Cast Members Will Return To Disney World This Week
As we reported this past week at MickeyBlog, Actors’ Equity, the union that represents Disney’s performers and entertainers are pushing back against Disney World’s decision to continue to open the theme parks this week given a large number of new COVID-19 cases in Florida. Yesterday alone there were 11,000 new cases reported in the state.
That Actors’ Equity is still at odds with the Walt Disney Company over reopening can be seen in their comment to a video Disney World shared of guests returning to work. See below:
— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) July 3, 2020
Laurel Slater, Manager of Communications at Walt Disney World Public Affairs released the following statement over the weekend, “With just eight days until we reopen our first theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, tens of thousands of cast members have been straightening up our nametags (and grabbing our face coverings!) as we begin to return to work. As we count down to the phased reopening of our theme parks, we’re looking forward to welcoming our fellow cast members home to begin training in preparation for reopening.”
Though the video shows the eagerness of cast members returning and highlights the protective measures the company is taken including wearing protective masks and having their temperatures checked, Actors’ Equity is arguing that COVID-19 testing should be available to cast members especially performers who can’t wear face masks during certain aspects of the job.
As DEADLINE reported going into the weekend, Florida’s department of health reported last week that the state has over 170,000 new cases of COVID-19. Last Thursday 67 new deaths were reported bringing the total in the state to 3,617. This led officials in Orange County last week to announce that beaches in the county would be closed throughout the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
As a result of an increase in cases in the State, Actors’ Equity did not reach an agreement with Walt Disney World last week regarding protocols for performers returning to work. The primary reason being lack of testing, Actors Equity notified its members about the rejected proposal through an email that went out it reads, “Disney knows that testing makes for a safer workplace. Why else would Disney agree to testing for film productions? If testing helps keep a film set safe, that is also true for performers in the parks. Despite that, we have not reached an agreement with Disney for testing.”
Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association said in a statement released last week,: “It is deeply disturbing that while coronavirus cases in Florida surge, Disney is refusing to provide regular testing to one of the few groups of workers in the park who by the very nature of their jobs, cannot use personal protective equipment. Now is the time for Disney to pause, focus on the science and put the safety of their actors and stage managers first by making regular testing available.”
As we reported last week here at MickeyBlog, both Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California announced that they would be suspending their Disney College Program indefinitely. This includes internships and withdrew offers of employment to students previously accepted to the program.
We will continue to follow this story closely so keep checking in with us for further news and updates.
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