Disney has temporarily closed its California theme parks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The move comes as the novel coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the US.
In the past week it has officially become a pandemic, with cases increasing in the US, Asia and across Europe.
It’s only the fourth time in history that Disneyland in Anaheim, California, has fully suspended operations. The other occasions were the September 11 attacks, the morning after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Northridge earthquake.
It’s unclear if Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, will remain open.
“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month”,” Disney said in a statement on Friday (Australian time).
Update: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will be closed beginning March 14 through the end of the month. We will monitor the situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. For details, visit: https://t.co/CsRdJqYD6Z.
— Disneyland Today (@DisneylandToday) March 12, 2020
The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16, to allow guests to make necessary travel arrangements. Downtown Disney will also remain open.
“We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time,” the statement said.
“Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period.”
Closures seemed inevitable after Los Angeles Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday called for gatherings with more than 250 people to be cancelled or delayed to try to the transmission of the virus. Officials are also encouraging “social distancing” of two metres per person.
Disney closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong in January, and has also temporarily closed its parks in Japan as well.
Disney reported that it could lose $US280 million in revenue due to closures in Shanghai and Hong Kong alone.
The news came as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The declaration allows to use new powers as the number of confirmed cases in the city rose to 95.
“The last 24 hours have been very, very sobering,” he said on Thursday.
“Literally, yesterday morning feels like a long time ago.”
He did not immediately issue new rules, but said he supported an announcement by state Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban gatherings of more than 500 people in the state.