Ignoring Science and Data, New State Guidelines are Wrong, and Contrary to Good Health and Good Business Protocols

IRVINE, CA — Today the State debuted concept theme park guidelines, splitting large and small parks into two categories. The guidelines relegate large parks (those with capacity over 15,000 like Disneyland) to indefinite closure until Orange County reaches the fourth or “yellow” tier, an essentially impossible task without a vaccine, according to local health officials. The economic impact of prolonged closure for Disneyland results in $23 million lost per day and over $8.5 billion per year. If Disneyland remains closed through 2021, a likely timeframe based on current requirements and the status of vaccines, hundreds of local businesses will go bankrupt and the economies of Anaheim, Orange County and, indeed, Southern California will be severely impacted.  

“The continued closure of Disneyland and other local parks highlights the Governor’s ongoing inability to examine the science and best practices that point toward being able to reopen safely,” said Lucy Dunn, President and CEO, Orange County Business Council (OCBC). “Governor Newsom may perceive himself leading ‘the Trump resistance,’ but by ignoring science and data, good mental health practices, and economics in favor of politics and lockdowns, he becomes just the other side of the same coin. Orange County has lowered its infections, increased its testing, each time meeting the State’s metrics for reopening, only to be met with shifting goals. That’s not fair or healthy.”

The county’s numbers continue to fall and local health officials have offered alternatives to the State’s plan that make sense, like allowing Disneyland to reopen in the third or “Orange” tier with modified operations, yet the Governor avoids collaboration and transparency in his decision making—unlike every leader around the globe with all safely reopened parks.

“When COVID-19 first came to light earlier this year, the message from both the State and Federal government to local communities was that we needed to “flatten the curve”, so as not to overwhelm our hospital system. Orange County residents and businesses, despite great personal and financial sacrifices, worked very hard to make that happen. Our hospitalization and ICU rates have steadily declined over the past several weeks, and continue on a downward trajectory, yet we are not receiving any credit in this regard for complying with the State’s order,” said Fifth District Supervisor and President of the California State Association of Counties, Lisa Bartlett. “The announcement today that large theme parks won’t be able to open until the County transitions to the “Yellow” tier, and then at only 25%, is totally unreasonable and extremely unfair,” she continued.

Disney has proven that they can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at their park properties around the world. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and hold Disneyland to a standard that is vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities.

“Governor Newsom can reopen his own wineries and bars, sports fans can now enjoy them at his personal businesses, but Orange County can’t open a safe place to give happiness and hope—with all safe protocols–to families fatigued by this pandemic? This is crazy-making,” said Lucy Dunn

The latest guidelines do let professional sports welcome back fans to outdoor games at 20% capacity in the “Orange” tier, and 25% capacity in the “Yellow” tier, with additional restrictions. While a step in the right direction, this falls far short of the need to recognize the international health and safety leadership of theme park operators and enable re-opening plans that prevent further job losses and unrecoverable blows to businesses and families depending on the local economic ecosystem. Disneyland and the 11 unions that represent their workforce have called for reopening safely. With no open date or path for reopening in place, additional layoffs will undoubtedly follow Disney’s initial round of 9,000 local jobs announced early this month.

James Alley
Director of Communications

About OCBC:
Orange County Business Council represents and promotes the business community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange County’s economic development and prosperity in order to preserve a high quality of life. OCBC is comprised of the region’s most influential global businesses and organizations in the region, working to assure effective investment in infrastructure, an advanced education system that produces skilled workers, growth of venture capital and high tech companies, and housing solutions for the workforce.  OCBC membership is comprised of some of the world’s largest global corporate leaders as well as representation from local government and academia.  For more information, visit



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