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Disney to furlough more employees and executives amid new surge of coronavirus

California's reopening rules for theme parks
California's reopening rules for theme parks 01:06

The Walt Disney Company said on Monday that additional workers at its California theme parks — which includes Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure — will face furloughs as the U.S. battles a fall surge of new coronavirus cases. Disneyland president Ken Potrock said in a letter that the furloughs will apply to executive, salaried and hourly employees.

Disneyland, located in the Orange County city of Anaheim, has been closed since the pandemic began in March, and the company had previously furloughed non-essential employees in April. Months later in September, Disney said it would cut 28,000 employees across Disneyland and its Florida theme park Walt Disney World due to the pandemic.

"We expected to be able to open our parks in Anaheim, given our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols as we have in all of our other theme parks around the world, but unfortunately this has not been the case," Potrock wrote.

Disney had lost an estimated $500 million for every two weeks the attractions were shuttered, Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said in May. Disney World reopened to limited capacity in July, but Disneyland remains closed under California state orders. The company's share price has slumped some 13% this year.

In October, California released strict reopening guidelines for theme parks in the state.

To reach the "minimum" tier, also known as the "yellow" tier, a county must have a seven-day adjusted average of less than one daily case per 100,000 people and a seven-day average positivity rate of less than 2% that does not disproportionately impact disadvantaged populations. Major theme parks will only be allowed to reopen in the yellow tier, and even then, with only 25% capacity and other health restrictions. Smaller theme parks will be able to open outdoor attractions if and when their home counties reach the orange, or "moderate," tier of the reopening roadmap.

Disney said that unions representing workers at its California theme parks are in support of opening The Happiest Place on Earth when Orange County reaches the orange tier.

It wasn't immediately clear how many employees would be affected in the latest round of furloughs. The company letter said those who are furloughed can "maintain health and insurance benefits coverage," "elect to use some or all of their available paid-time off hours ... if eligible" and said workers can apply for state unemployment benefits.

Disney to lay off 28,000 workers 02:18

Khristopher J. Brooks contributed to this report. This story has been updated to reflect new information regarding the unions representing the workers at Disney's theme parks in California.

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