Downtown Disney businesses will be opened Thursday, spurring some mixed emotions among employees.
“Definitely some people are ready to go back to work and are looking forward to earning a living again, but there’s quite a few people who are scared and just don’t know what to expect and feel vulnerable,” said Andrea Zinder, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, which represents the Downtown Disney employees.
Union leaders are still negotiating some issues, Zinder said.
“We think there are more things they can do to protect workers and guests,” Zinder said. “They should be providing testing on premises to employees when they go back and on a periodic basis… They do have a health care facility on premises for their employees and this would be a very easy addition.”
Employees also want Disney to pay for time off if a worker has to quarantine because they were exposed to the virus.
“We also think it’s really necessary that Disney provide extra paid time off to anyone who is required to quarantine by a doctor or medical professional because they were exposed in some way or another,” Zinder said.
Without that assistance, some workers will have to decide between a paycheck and safety, she said.
Grocery store chains have been doing that, Ziner said.
There is also some concern about patrons who refuse to wear a face covering, Zinder said.
“We’re hopeful the mask rule they’re putting in place will be enforced because that is very, very important, especially in a place like World of Disney, which is an indoor facility,” Zinder said.
Retail workers “deal with this all the time in Orange County,” Zinder said. “There’s that group of people who believe they’re above the law and they’re selfish and nobody is going to tell them to wear a mask.”
Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee, whose district includes Downtown Disney and Disneyland, said, “I think Disney has a typically controlled environment. That’s been my experience that it is very controlled.”
Chaffee views the reopening as an “interesting experiment, but they have to be very, very careful. We’ll see how it goes.”
Chaffee said the company has a reputation for making sure patrons follow the rules.
“That’s the magic of Disney. They are strong about enforcing their rules,” Chaffee said. “`If you’re not wearing a mask I don’t think they’ll let you be there.”
Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said city officials are “very encouraged and happy to see Downtown Disney opening.”
City officials, “have a lot of confidence in Disney to open safely. The plan they laid down is very solid.”
Patrons can expect to have their temperatures checked for fever and will be required to wear masks indoors, Lyster said.
Only outdoor dining is allowed at this time, and bars must be closed for the next few weeks under recent state guidelines to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We share the concern of anyone reopening in this unique time but we’re encouraged and think it is a good step forward,” Lyster said.
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