World Events

Disney’s Bob Iger resigns from Newsom economic task force

Walt Disney Co. Executive Chairman Bob Iger has resigned from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force, an abrupt public confirmation of the growing tensions stemming from California’s reluctance to allow theme parks to reopen.

Iger’s departure from the governor’s high-profile task force, a group organized in April to inject an element of business acumen and gravitas to the state’s pandemic recovery efforts, happened earlier this week, a Disney spokesperson told The Times after the resignation was reported by the Sacramento Bee.

Last week, Disney announced it will lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and products division, which includes Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim. The company’s footprint in Southern California is sizable, with a variety of local businesses that depend on theme park visitors now in dire financial straits.

Newsom’s advisers have said a new set of state public health guidelines for theme and amusement park openings would be released by the end of the week. But the leader of the trade group representing those businesses said Thursday that a draft of the proposal shared by the state falls far short of what the industry needs.

“While we are aligned on many of the protocols and health and safety requirements, there are many others that need to be modified if they are to lead to a responsible and reasonable amusement park reopening plan,” Erin Guerrero, executive director of the California Attractions & Parks Assn., said in a written statement. “We ask the Governor not to finalize guidance for amusement parks before engaging the industry in a more earnest manner, listening to park operators’ expertise, and collaborating with the industry on a plan that will allow for amusement parks to reopen responsibly while still keeping the health and safety of park employees and guests a top priority.”

During a tour of fire damage in Sonoma County on Thursday, Newsom sharply disputed that he was feeling any pressure to allow Disneyland and other amusement parks in the state to begin the process of resuming operations.

“The answer is, unequivocally, no,” Newsom said. “We are not putting the health and safety of people visiting the state or recreating in the state at the parks at risk.”

Times staff writers Hugo Martin and Phil Willon contributed to this report.

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