Walt Disney Co. chairman Bob Iger has quit Gov. Gavin Newsom’s economic recovery task force, a Disney spokesperson confirmed Thursday evening.
The spokesperson would not say why or precisely when Iger left the task force, but the news comes as the Newsom administration is preparing to release guidance on theme park reopening that the industry is criticizing.
In a Thursday afternoon statement, the California Attractions and Parks Association urged the governor not to finalize a draft of the reopening guidance that the association saw earlier that day.
“While we are aligned on many of the protocols and health and safety requirements, there are many others that need to be modified if they are to lead to a responsible and reasonable amusement park reopening plan,” the association wrote. “We ask the Governor not to finalize guidance for amusement parks before engaging the industry in a more earnest manner, listening to park operators’ expertise, and collaborating with the industry on a plan that will allow for amusement parks to reopen responsibly while still keeping the health and safety of park employees and guests a top priority.”
Disney official Liz Jaeger said the company had repeatedly shared with the governor’s office health and safety measures that are working at other parks it has opened.
Theme parks have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s economic shutdown. On Tuesday, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 workers in California and Florida. According to the Associated Press, the company employs more than 30,000 workers at Disneyland in California and about 77,000 employees at Disney World in Florida.
The Newsom administration plans to release new guidance on theme parks Friday, spokesman Nathan Click said.
When asked Thursday if his administration was bowing to political pressure from Disney to allow parks to reopen, Newsom said “unequivocally no.”
“We are not putting the health and safety of people visiting this state or recreating in this state at theme parks at risk,” Newsom said during a press conference in an area burned by the Glass Fire.
Newsom announced the economic task force in April. At the time, he touted the long list of successful business people, labor advocates and political leaders who would participate. Iger was among the most prominent business representatives on the task force, along with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
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