ORLANDO, FLa. – As the country works to gain control of the coronavirus, some safety measures will stick around even after vaccines are administered.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he expects the strict safety precautions at the parks to last through the end of the year.
“We have no doubt that when we reopened up parks that were closed or increased the capacity that we will have some level of social distancing and mask-wearing for the remainder of the year, that is our expectation,” Chapek said on the call.
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During an earnings call Thursday, Chapek told investors that he believes there will be at least some level of social distancing and mask-wearing at the resorts for the remainder of the year, but not in 2022.
He hopes there are vaccines for everyone who wants them by April, Chapek said that could be a ‘gamechanger’ for the theme parks.
“Will there be overlap until we know we hit herd immunity? Sure, there will,” Chapek added. “But do we think we will be in the same state of 6-foot social distancing and mask-wearing in 2022? Absolutely not.”
Disney parks in Central Florida are also expected to stay at some level of limited capacity. As of this publication, capacity is capped off around 35%.
However, as more vaccinations happen, retired UCF Professor and former Disney employee, Dr. Duncan Dickson believes we could see an increase in that capacity as the percentage of those vaccinated increases as well, especially ahead of a busy summer season.
“I think as we get more towards 50% vaccination, we will see it go up by the end of summer,” Dr. Dickson said. “I’d like to see it at 50% capacity.”
That will come on the heels of Disney’s 50th anniversary planned for October.
“We got to get to a point where we got herd immunity before anything really happens and I don’t see it happening before October but hopefully as we get more people vaccinated, we can increase it incrementally.”
On the West Coast, Disneyland in California remains closed and has not opened its gates during the pandemic. Disney Cruise Line is also closed. Recently, the cruise line extended its cancelations through April.
The battered cruise industry continues to rock Disney’s business plan, and the parks division alone reported a $119 million loss last quarter.
Disney made a $2.5 billion profit a year earlier.
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