Walt Disney World and unions agree on safeguards for returning to work

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FILE PHOTO: Fireworks go off around Cinderella’s castle during the grand opening ceremony for Walt Disney World’s new Fantasyland in Lake Buena Vista, Florida December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Scott Audette

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and unions representing workers at Florida’s Walt Disney World have reached an agreement on safeguards to protect employees from coronavirus, a union statement said on Thursday, removing one of the company’s hurdles to reopening its popular theme parks.

The measures include social distancing practices, increased cleaning and mandatory masks for workers and guests, according to a statement from the Service Trades Council Union, which represents about 43,000 workers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Disney has announced that some shops and restaurants in the Disney Springs shopping area in Orlando will open on May 20, but the company has not set a reopening date for any of its four theme parks in the area.

The company closed its parks around the world starting in late January to help prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading. It reopened Shanghai Disneyland to a limited number of visitors on Monday.

The agreement with the Walt Disney World unions also calls for plastic barriers and touchless transactions at cash registers, temperature checks for guests, and other measures, the STCU statement said.

Employees who contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will receive paid time off to quarantine, the statement said.

Disney shares were trading 1.9% higher at $104.90 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy

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