LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co said Tuesday it will lay off an estimated 28,000 employees, mostly at its theme parks in the United States, where participation has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic, especially in California, where Disneyland remains closed.
About two-thirds of the laid-off employees will be part-time workers, the company said in a statement.
Disney closed its theme parks around the world when the new coronavirus began spreading this year. All but Disneyland ̵
“We have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce in our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels,” Josh D’Amaro, president of the parks unit, said in a statement.
He cited the parks’ limited capacity and uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic, which he said was “exacerbated in California by the state’s reluctance to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”
In a letter to employees, D’Amaro called the move “heartbreaking”. He said management tried to avoid layoffs by cutting expenses, suspending projects and streamlining operations. The company has continued to pay health benefits for laid-off workers since April.
“However, we simply cannot responsibly retain all staff while operating with such limited capacity,” D’Amaro said.
Walt Disney World in Florida had employed 77,000 full-time and part-time workers before the pandemic, while Disneyland in California had 32,000.Disney did not disclose how many other U.S. employees work in the parks unit, which includes consumer products, companies. cruise and other businesses.
Last week, Disney urged California officials to issue guidelines that would allow Disneyland to welcome visitors again.
On Tuesday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health, said the state has taken a scientific approach to reopening that aimed to “minimize the health and economic risks that would be caused by repeated opening and closing.”
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio and Stephen Coates