Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure parks in Anaheim, California, will close on Saturday amid the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. — the latest in a series of tourist attractions to shut down.
Walt Disney World in Orlando remains open as of Thursday afternoon.
Disney announced the closing on Thursday, sharing a message on their official Public Affairs Twitter.
“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month.”
According to the statement, the resort’s hotels will remain open until March 16 in order to allow guests time to make travel arrangements. Downtown Disney will also remain open as the company continues to monitor the situation and consult with health officials.
The announcement indicates that those who have already planned visits to the park during this time will be able to speak with Disney representatives to change or cancel their plans, and Disney will be providing refunds to those who have hotel bookings during the closure period.
This is the only the fourth time in history that Disneyland has closed completely. Previously, Disneyland shut down due to the Northridge earthquake of 1994, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the national day of mourning after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, according to a tweet from New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes.
Walt Disney World in Orlando has only ever shut its doors due to the threat of hurricanes — most recently, Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 — and the day after the 2001 attacks.
Most recently, Disney parks in Asia, where this coronavirus outbreak began, have also closed. Disney’s Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo parks were the first to close their gates. The Hong Kong and Shanghai locations are closed indefinitely — though Disneyland Shanghai is beginning to slowly reopen some parts of the resort — while Tokyo Disneyland plans to reopen on March 16.
A spokesperson for Walt Disney World told PEOPLE in the days leading up to the closure that the company had been monitoring the situation, and that the parks had been ramping up their sanitation procedures.
“We know there is new information this week about Coronavirus in Florida,” the spokesperson said in a statement on March 3.
“We have very stringent sanitation procedures in place at Walt Disney World Resort. We are in close contact with health agencies for information and guidance, and at this time, we are continuing to communicate to our Cast the importance of preventative measures such as frequent handwashing and rigorous cleaning processes.” Adding, “For guest convenience, we have placed additional hand sanitizers throughout our parks and resorts and will adjust our protocols as the situation warrants.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the best prevention methods against COVID-19 are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.
Some experts are also suggesting that communities practice “social distancing,” described by Harvard Health as “maintaining enough distance between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”
While social distancing may not be enough to halt the virus completely, CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reported that it has proven to help slow down the spread of diseases in the past, including during the 1918 flu pandemic.
“Cities that did a lot of social distancing did better than those that didn’t,” he said.
As of Thursday morning, there are 1,269 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., and 37 people have died. California has the third-most cases in the country, with 139. Four people in the state have died.
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