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Disney delays Southern California theme park reopenings

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 17:  In this handout photo provided by Disney parks, Mickey Mouse and his friends celebrate the 60th anniversary of Disneyland park during a ceremony at Sleeping Beauty Castle featuring Academy Award-winning composer, Richard Sherman and Broadway actress and singer Ashley Brown July 17, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  Celebrating six decades of magic, the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration features three new nighttime spectaculars that immerse guests in the worlds of Disney stories like never before with "Paint the Night," the first all-LED parade at the resort; "Disneyland Forever," a reinvention of classic fireworks that adds projections to pyrotechnics to transform the park experience; and a moving new version of "World of Color" that celebrates Walt Disneys dream for Disneyland.  (Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 17: In this handout photo provided by Disney parks, Mickey Mouse and his friends celebrate the 60th anniversary of Disneyland park during a ceremony at Sleeping Beauty Castle featuring Academy Award-winning composer, Richard Sherman and Broadway actress and singer Ashley Brown July 17, 2015 in Anaheim, California. Celebrating six decades of magic, the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration features three new nighttime spectaculars that immerse guests in the worlds of Disney stories like never before with "Paint the Night," the first all-LED parade at the resort; "Disneyland Forever," a reinvention of classic fireworks that adds projections to pyrotechnics to transform the park experience; and a moving new version of "World of Color" that celebrates Walt Disneys dream for Disneyland. (Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images) (©2015 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For editorial news use only.)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Disney is postponing the mid-July reopening of its Southern California theme parks until it receives guidelines from the state, the company announced Wednesday.

Disney had hoped to reopen Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim on July 17 after a four-month closure due to the coronavirus. But the state has indicated it won’t issue guidelines until after July 4, the company said.

“Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” Disney said in a statement.

The company didn’t provide a new reopening date. The parks closed on March 14 and the reopening requires government approval.

Gov. Gavin Newsom “appreciates Disney’s responsiveness to his concerns about reopening amid the recent increases in COVID-19 infections across many Southern California counties," Newsom spokesman Nathan Click said. “The governor, the state and our public health experts continue to be in contact with the company and their workers — as well as other theme parks in the state — as we track and combat the spread of the virus."

Disney also said it is still negotiating agreements with employee unions, some of which have raised safety concerns about the reopenings. Disney said it has signed agreements from 20 union affiliates representing more than 11,000 employees, detailing enhanced safety protocols.

Disney also will delay the planned July 23 reopening of its Grand Californian and Paradise Pier hotels.

The Downtown Disney District restaurant and shopping area will reopen on July 9 as previously planned “with health and safety protocols in place for our cast members and guests,” Disney said.

Disneyland fans normally can bank on the park being open regardless of what’s going on in the world around it. The park closed only a handful of times in 65 years. The last time was after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The company indicated it still planned to proceed with reopening Disney World in Florida on July 11. Disney resorts in Shanghai and Hong Kong already reopened.

California is seeing a COVID-19 spike, recording a 69% increase in new cases this week.

The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia and death.