Actors’ Equity Association Rejects Safety Plan for Walt Disney World Performers
The phased reopening of Walt Disney World will begin on July 11 with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and July 15 for Epcot and Hollywood Studios, with Cast Member and Annual Passholder Previews beforehand. With these dates steadily approaching, many Cast Members are being called back to work.
However, the executive committee of Actors’ Equity Association does not approve of Walt Disney World’s employee safety plan for reopening due to one major detail- Disney’s plan doesn’t include COVID-19 testing for performers. According to Deadline, the Actors’ Equity Association members received an email explaining the situation: ““Disney knows that testing makes for a safer work place. Why else would Disney agree to testing for film productions? If testing helps keep a film set safe, that is also true for performers in the parks. Despite that, we have not reached an agreement with Disney for testing.”
The Actors’ Equity Association had insisted last week that testing would be “a fundamental part of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone, from the guests to the cast.”
Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, described the situation further: “It is deeply disturbing that while coronavirus cases in Florida surge, Disney is refusing to provide regular testing to one of the few groups of workers in the park who by the very nature of their jobs, cannot use personal protective equipment. Now is the time for Disney to pause, focus on the science and put the safety of their actors and stage managers first by making regular testing available.”
According to Deadline, the recommendation for testing comes from a knowledgable source- Dr. David Michaels, the former director of OSHA himself. Dr. Michaels was recruited by Equity this spring to advise the union on health and safety protocols during the pandemic.
Walt Disney World will instill many other safety protocols when the parks reopen to keep guests and Cast Members safe, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing markings, and possible temperature checks.
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