Disney World actors ready to work after COVID testing dispute resolved

Lisa Richwine
·2 mins read

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney World actors, who argued that the Florida theme park's proposed coronavirus safeguards were inadequate to protect them, have resolved a dispute over COVID-19 testing, a union statement said on Wednesday.

The Actors' Equity Association had called on Walt Disney Co to provide regular coronavirus testing for its members, who cannot wear protective masks while performing as other park employees do.

Disney said on Wednesday it would provide space just outside Walt Disney World in Orlando for a testing site run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The site will be open to Disney employees, known as cast members, and the public.

"Our actions support all cast and our community at large," Disney said in a statement.

Walt Disney World reopened on July 11 with several safety measures including limited attendance, social distancing in lines and on rides and mask requirements for guests and staff.

Actors' Equity, which represents roughly 750 stage performers at the park in shows such as the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, said the measures did not go far enough and called for regular testing. Disney opened the park without the performers.

"We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed," Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle said.

The union said it had signed a memo of understanding with Disney and was waiting to hear how many workers the company would recall during its limited operations. In June, before the testing dispute, Disney had called back about 220 actors and singers, the union said.

Disney said it offered testing space "to help with community testing" and that "any suggestion that this has been done as a result of any one union is unfounded."

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler)