“Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea have decided to proceed with an extraordinary closure from Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, through Sunday, Mar. 15,” the operator said in a statement posted to its Japanese website Friday morning. “The reopening date is scheduled for March 16 [Monday], but we will contact closely with the relevant administrative organs and will inform you again.”
The parks are operated by Oriental Land, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. In a normal year, they welcome about 30 million visitors.
The decision to close followed increased action to prevent contagion now being taken by the Japanese government. “In view of large-scale transmission risks, we have decided to request [organizers] to cancel, postpone or hold sport and cultural events nationwide on a smaller scale than planned for the next two weeks nationwide,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday, after forming a government task force. On Thursday, the Japanese government ordered all schools to be closed from Monday March 2 until the Spring break, which usually falls at the end of the month.
The two other Disney branded theme parks in Asia, in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which are each majority owned by local entities have been closed since late January. In an earnings call, Disney said that a two month closure of the Shanghai park could cost it $135 million in lost earnings. Two months closure of Hong Kong could cost it $145 million, the company said.
Japan has recorded 214 coronavirus cases, and eight deaths to date. The figures exclude those cases on the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked and quarantined at Yokohama since Feb. 3.
Japan has a lot at stake if it fails to bring the virus outbreak under quick control. The Olympic Games are due to be held this summer in Tokyo and other locations. In the past week there has been speculation from Intl. Olympic Committee member Dick Pound that due to the complexity of organizing the games, the Summer Olympics might have to be cancelled.
The local Tokyo Organizing Committee, however, rejected that analysis, calling it “speculation.” “Preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 continue as planned,” it said.
“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organisations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organisations,” the local organizing committee said in a statement on Thursday.