California, as one of the most populous states in the US, has undoubtedly been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, not only with infection rates but with economic turmoil as well. However, upon a not-so close-inspection, it seems most of this, or at least the financial bit, could have been avoided had it not been for one overzealous and rather tyrannical government leader.
Enter the draconian Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
And it is his recent decisions, or should I say a lack thereof, that has led Disney to announce this week that they will be laying off a whopping 28,000 employees in the coming weeks. Some 67 percent of those laid off are part-time employees.
Like all Disney attractions and theme parks, their California property has been temporarily shut down due to the virus. However, unlike most others, it has still not been allowed to reopen or even think about reopening. It has been noted that almost every other Disney location worldwide has reopened on some level, even if it is with drastically limited features and attendance caps.
Disney in California, on the other hand, has been forced to stay closed entirely for going on eight months now.
Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, Josh D’Amaro, sent out an email to Tuesday afternoon letting the company and its employees know of the challenging decision he and other leaders have been forced to make.
In the email, he tells his employees, while the company has “cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible… we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.”
He adds that this is the only “feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business.” D’Amaro goes on to quote more specific limitations such as social distancing and over “continued uncertainty.”
According to D’Amaro, “appointments” will be scheduled in the coming days to meet with employees who will be affected as well as the unions who represent them.
Now, you may notice that, in this letter, he does not explicitly mention California or any other Disney property.
However, D’Amaro was quick to do when making his official press statement.
While the statement is very similar to the employee email, there is one notable addition.
“In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce.”
It is further noted that while Disney is anxious to reopen, they have not even asked when they can do so. Instead, they have been merely asking Newsom for some reopening guidelines. They want to know what they can be doing to prepare for reopening, whenever that is possible.
But Newsom has refused to give them any information whatsoever. There have been no attendance caps provided, no social distancing requirements made, not even a tentative idea of what reopening will look like in the state.
And Disney is not the only one suffering as a result.
As I am sure you are aware, California’s Disneyland is nestled in the hills of Anaheim, where they are one of the only significant attractions around. Should Disneyland be allowed to reopen, the funding it brings to the area could sustain the community, no matter what else is closed, such as the nearby sports stadiums.
However, because Newsom has not allowed either Disney or these stadiums to become operational again, Anaheim is literally wasting away to nothing. Restaurants and shopping centers, usually packed with tourists from everywhere, are going bankrupt and closing their doors, some of them for good. And this only adds to the ever-growing unemployment rates in the area.
Yet, Governor Newsom seems unconcerned.
Instead, he is content to keep his state pretty much closed off from everything. Even churches are not allowed to be operational. He does allow protests and riots, though, of all things.