Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers, Disney officials say

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers, Disney officials said.

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Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.

Guests arrive to attend the official re-opening day of Epcot at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

In a letter to employees, Josh DÁmaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.

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“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have 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,” he said.

Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees, where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.

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