Florida plans to allow theme parks to reopen on Saturday. Alexia Quadrani, J.P. Morgan media analyst, and Tuna Amobi, senior media and entertainment analyst at CFRA, join “Squawk Box” to discuss what this could mean for Disney. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
Walt Disney World will reopen in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday amid a growing number of Covid-19 cases within the state.
The pandemic has devastated Disney. The company has been forced to shutter its theme parks, push back its film openings and run ESPN without live games from major U.S. sports leagues.
One bright spot for Disney has been its streaming service Disney+, which saw its number of app downloads jump 74% ahead of its release last week of the filmed stage production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” featuring the musical’s original cast.
Reopening its parks, which accounted for 37% of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue last year, is a top priority for Disney. Already, its competitors, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, have reopened to limited capacity in Orlando. Disney was among the first parks to close in the state in mid-March and will be one of the last to reopen.
Despite extensive safety procedures and approval from local government, there is still apprehension from potential guests and experts about whether Disney World should reopen its gates to the public. Especially, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis extended Florida’s state of emergency for another 60 days on Tuesday.
The increased scrutiny on Disney, in particular, appears to be a result of the massive increase in coronavirus cases in Florida. Nearly 114,000 new cases were reported in the last two weeks, according to the Florida Department of Health. Not to mention, dozens of hospitals in the state have run out of space in their intensive care units.
“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of the pandemic, with cases now exceeding 3 million in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ravina Kullar, a Los Angeles-based infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist and spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “Data has shown us that SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks have happened from people screaming, talking loudly, and coughing and sneezing.”
Kullar said theme parks will be a “breeding ground” for Covid-19 transmission and should remain closed until there is a decrease in cases.
“We are in the middle of pandemic, we need to think about what is important to open and what is not important to open,” Dr. Carlos Del Rio, an Atlanta-based infectious diseases specialist, said. “I think the world survives just fine without Disney.”
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