ORLANDO, Fla. – ***8:49 p.m. 3/12/2020 UPDATE***
Theme Parks at Disney World are set to close through the end of the month starting at the close of business on Sunday. according to park officials.
Universal Orlando Resort theme parks are set to close through the end of the month starting at the close of business on Sunday, according to park officials.
Disney World, Universal Orlando and all other Central Florida theme parks remained open Thursday despite the spread of coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The spread of COVID-19 has prompted the cancellation of numerous events, including games in the NBA, which suspended its season until further notice after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Officials at Disney, Universal and SeaWorld said cleaning has been increased at the respective Orlando-area parks.
Portable hand-washing stations have also been added at Disney parks and hotels, officials said.
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Disney and the other parks are trying to keep guests safe.
“With people using the restrooms there, I don’t think you’ve ever seen so many cleaning agents being applied," DeSantis said. “I mean, they are really working hard to keep those theme parks in good, working order.”
Disney announced Wednesday that its theme park in Tokyo will stay closed until April. Parts of Disney’s resort in Shanghai, China, have started to reopen, however. The temporary closure of the parks will cost Disney an estimated $175 million to $300 million.
As of late Wednesday, there were 29 confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida, two of which have resulted in death, according to health officials.
Several days ago, coronavirus czar Vice President Mike Pence stressed that it’s safe for healthy Americans to travel, noting “one of our favorite places to go when my children were young and even before my children came was in Orlando.”
“Whether it be Disney World, whether it be other destination, whether it be cruise ships … those most at risk are seniors with serious or chronic underlying health conditions.”
“Otherwise Americans can confidently travel in this country,” Pence said at a Saturday meeting with cruise industry officials in Fort Lauderdale.
Since Pence’s announcement, however, President Donald Trump has limited travel to the U.S. from Europe, and residents have been warned about the risks of taking a cruise.
Still, as COVID-19 concerns multiply, the issue weighs heavily in the tourism industry.
“There is definitely concern. Particularly how and when it could manifest itself in the U.S.,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., an independent industry consultant.
Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for updates.