Florida is coronavirus hotspot, but DeSantis declares theme parks ’safe’
Despite a serious spike in statewide cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday declared Florida’s theme parks “safe.”
“Theme parks have been doing great,” the governor said while speaking in The Villages, about an hour north of Orlando.
That assessment got bipartisan support Tuesday from U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat.
Soto said he believed Disney would take the proper precautions to prevent worsening the current surge in coronavirus cases around the state. One precaution, he said, is the parks would operate at just 50% capacity.
He said other Central Florida attractions had reopened and does not believe they have contributed to the spike in cases. And, he added, the region’s 30% unemployment rate also needs to be addressed.
“The vast majority of our constituents want to go back to work, but it’s got to be done safely,” he said.
The Disney and Universal parks are the state’s most popular. But other parks have also reopened.
Busch Gardens in Tampa reopened on June 11. In Orlando, SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove also welcomed back visitors last month.
However, the Miami Seaquarium, which reopened on June 20, has subsequently closed again due to the spiral in cases in South Florida, particularly Miami-Dade.
And while it announced dates for reopening its Florida property, the Walt Disney Company has delayed the reopening of Disneyland, originally set for July 17, because of an increase in COVID-19 cases across California.
The unions representing many of the employees at Disney’s Florida parks have asked the company to delay their reopening.
But DeSantis insisted he believes the theme parks are safe, citing coronavirus safety rules implemented.
“People are going to be in a safe environment,” he said. Instead, the governor said the bigger concern are private social gatherings where proper social distancing and other measures are not enforced or adhered to.
With more than 6,000 new cases reported on Monday, Florida’s total count topped 206,000. The state, however, has seen more than 100,000 additional coronavirus infections in the past two weeks.