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OC City Leaders Form New Coalition, Call On Newsom To Allow Theme Parks To Reopen

ANAHEIM (CBSLA) — Desperate to reopen, a coalition of city leaders from around Orange County is hoping to get Gov. Gavin Newsom's attention with a new commercial calling for the reopening of theme parks.

Downtown Disney
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 16: A lock hangs on the center gate between the turnstiles at the entrance to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, on Monday, Mar 16, 2020. The entire Disneyland Resort is shutting down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

"Tell Gov. Newsom to help Anaheim get back to work," a voice in the commercial says. "Let's reopen theme parks and reawaken our region."

The commercial is the first public effort by a new coalition named Reopen O.C. now, made up of city leaders from Anaheim, Buena Park and Garden Grove. The leaders want to know why countless businesses — like zoos, museums and aquariums — have been allowed to reopen, but Disneyland and the rides at Knott's Berry Farm must remain closed.

"I agree with it 100%," Dennis Lafayette, an Anaheim resident said. "We should have opened up two, three months ago."

"The sooner we get things back up and running, the less damage will be done later on — in six months from now, a year from now," Robert Esparza, also an Anaheim resident, said. "We can only sustain giving assistance for so long."

The vice president of the group that owns Knott's Berry Farm told the O.C. Register that they had tried to have "honest and meaningful" conversations with the governor's office, but were not successful.

"Somehow, in these other states, we were able to work with local jurisdictions to open our parks," Raffi Kaprelyan told the newspaper. "In this state, we're just getting no answers."

And the union president for 3,000 retail cast members at Disneyland said those who have returned to work at Downtown Disney since its shops and restaurants were allowed to reopen feel, for the most part, that the company was taking proper safety measures.

"I think safety has been a priority of all parties,"Andrea Zinder, president of UFCW Local 324, said. "Disney is prepared, and I hope Disney is prepared to do this the right way."

She said the remaining cast members who have not been allowed to return to work were eager to get back.

Less than two weeks ago, Newsom said he would soon release guidelines for reopening theme parks, but there was no word on when that would happen.

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