Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Coronavirus outbreak shuts down Universal Studios until end of month

Universal Studios will shut down until the end of the month amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Comcast Corp's Universal Studios theme park in Southern California also will close on Saturday and expects to reopen March 28, the company said.

A spokesman for Universal Studios Hollywood said the health and safety of guests and team members is their top priority for their parks.

"We are in frequent contact with health officials, our own health experts and others in our industry and we are closely monitoring the situation," spokesman Tom Schroder told The Hollywood Reporter.

"We are communicating with our team members and reinforcing our best-practice health and hygiene procedures. We are also educating them on basic preventive measures."

Earlier on Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom had recommended against gatherings of more than 250 people to help contain the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than three dozen people in the United States.

It comes as Universal Pictures said on Thursday that the release of "Fast & Furious 9" is being pushed back one year to
2021.

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Universal did not say why but the decision follows delays in the releases of several other Hollywood movies due to the
disruption in the global entertainment industry caused by the coronavirus.

Disney decided to close both of its Southern California parks after reviewing Newsom's guidelines "and in the best interest of our guests and employees," its statement said.

Walt Disney Co will also close its Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Southern California from Saturday through the end of the month due to the global outbreak of coronavirus, the company said on Thursday.

No cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported at the parks in Anaheim, California, a company representative said in a statement.

The Disney-run hotels in Anaheim will remain open through Monday to give guests time to make travel arrangements, the company said. Disney will pay its employees during the shutdown and refund payments for hotel bookings, it added.

Located about 30 miles (48 km) south of Los Angeles, the two Disney parks drew 28.6 million visitors in 2018, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

Disneyland, which opened in 1955, is nicknamed the "Happiest Place on Earth." The adjacent California Adventure was added in 2001.

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After Disney's announcement, S&P downgraded Disney's credit outlook to negative from stable, citing event cancellations and travel restrictions due to coronavirus.

"The negative outlook on Disney reflects the increased uncertainty around the extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global economy,'' S&P said.

It is unusual for Disney to close its theme parks. Brief shutdowns have occurred due to hurricanes or the September 11 attacks in the United States.

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Earlier this year, Disney shuttered its parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo to protect against coronavirus spread.

The company estimated in February that the shutdowns of Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland alone would cost

$175 million if both remained closed for two months.

Disney has announced no plans to shut its parks in Paris and Orlando, Florida.

  • Coronavirus

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