Disney World lays off 720 performers because of pandemic

Southeast

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)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — With many of its live entertainment shows gone dark because of the coronavirus, Walt Disney World on Wednesday laid off 720 actors and singers, according Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing the performers.

Only 60 Equity performers are working or returning to work at the Orlando, Florida-based theme park resort, the union said in a statement.

The performer layoffs were part of The Walt Disney Co.’s plans to eliminate 28,000 jobs in its parks division in California and Florida because of restrictions and costs from the pandemic. Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers.

“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful.”

The union said the laid off performers would maintain their right to be recalled for job openings until the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, about a dozen city employees in Fort Lauderdale have tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 30 others are quarantining, officials said.

Across Florida, the numbers of those testing positive — while still way down from the state’s summertime peak — have begun inching up over the past week, prompting a school in Orlando to return to virtual classes and the mayor of Jacksonville has extended a mask mandate through Thanksgiving Day.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during an appearance in central Florida that he has lobbied President Donald Trump to loosen travel restrictions from critical travel markets like Brazil and Europe, in hopes of jump-starting tourism into the state’s tourist attractions and beaches.

Farther north, in Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday extended a mask mandate for another 30 days. While the proclamation carries no fines or penalties, businesses can cite the government requirement when requiring masks inside their establishments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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