On the day Disneyland began requiring all visitors aged 2 and up to wear masks in indoor theme park locations regardless of vaccination status, the Walt Disney Co. announced Friday it is requiring all of its salaried and non-union hourly workers in the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Burbank-based company has also begun negotiations with employee unions that have collective bargaining agreements to discuss vaccination requirements.
"At The Walt Disney Co., the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority," according to a statement from Disney. "Toward that end, and based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated.
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"Employees who aren't already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today (Friday) to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions."
According to the company's statement, Disney will require all new hires to be fully vaccinated before beginning their employment.
"Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees," according to Disney.
The announcement comes on the heels of rising COVID-19 cases attributed to rapid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The state has announced that all of its employees and all workers at public and private health-care facilities in California will be required to be vaccinated or under testing up to twice a week. The cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach have followed suit for municipal workers, while Pasadena is moving forward with a mandatory vaccination policy for its employees.
The rising case numbers prompted a change of policy that took effect Friday at Disneyland, requiring all visitors age 2 and up to wear face coverings in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. The revised rule applies to workers at the theme park as well.
"This includes upon entering and throughout many attractions and in enclosed transportation vehicles, including shuttles and buses," according to a Disney announcement Thursday.
Face coverings remain optional for guests in outdoor common areas, Disney said.
Previously, vaccinated guests were permitted to go mask-less everywhere except on transportation. Unvaccinated guests were asked to continue wearing masks indoors, including transportation.
While guests will not be required to show proof of vaccination, Disney also said all guests "must attest that they are aware that: 1) the State of California strongly recommends that guests be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the Disneyland Resort, and (2) all guests (ages 2 and up) must wear face coverings when indoors, including on many attractions and in enclosed transportation vehicles."
The revised rules came after California public health officials on Wednesday aligned with new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recommended that everyone wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
But the announcement by the California Department of Public Health was only a recommendation, not a mandate. The revised Disney mask rules also apply to Disney World in Florida.