UPDATE: All Disney parks globally are closing temporarily, the company announced on Thursday afternoon. Both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando will also close temporarily,


In light of new guidance in California that all gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Disneyland, casinos, card rooms, theaters and other large parks are nevertheless allowed to remain open, said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press conference Thursday morning on the state’s prevention and containment efforts.

“I had a conversation with Bob Iger yesterday,” he said, referring to Walt Disney’s executive chairman and former CEO. “We’ve been meeting with our partners and our Tribal Nations. We’ve been meeting with leaders in those respective industries. The complexity of their unique circumstances requires additional conversation, a different kind of engagement in real time.”

Newsom said that his team is moving toward a resolution on that front, in those spaces, and that those conversations would be advanced “in earnest” later this afternoon.

Disney has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the issue over the past week.

The governor’s office and California Dept. of Public Health issued a “strong recommendation” to no longer permit large, non-essential events – including festivals, conferences and both school and professional sporting events — as well as smaller gatherings that do not allow “social distancing of six feet per person.”

Newsom said that he does not expect the need to enforce the new recommendations.

“Its legal authority is limited from an enforcement perspective, but I have all the expectation that it will be advanced and will be adopted,” he said at the presser.

The new guidelines apply to the month of March, but given the state of the coronavirus outbreak, is likely to be extended, said Newsom.

Per the California Dept. of Public Health on Wednesday, the new guidance is as follows through the month of March:

The California Department of Public Health finds the following:
  • Large gatherings that include 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled.
    • This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.
  • Smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled.
    • This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.
  • Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.
    • This includes gatherings such as those at retirement facilities, assisted living facilities, developmental homes, and support groups for people with health conditions.
  • A “gathering” is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.
This applies to all non-essential professional, social, and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.

Universal Studios did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but earlier this week shared guidance regarding its theme parks in Southern California and Orlando, stating that the “health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority,” and that it is in “frequent contact” with health officials and health experts and “are closely monitoring the situation.”

“We are communicating with our team members and reinforcing our best-practice health and hygiene procedures,” said a Universal Studios spokesperson. “We are also educating them on basic preventive measures.  In addition, we are reviewing and enhancing our already aggressive cleaning protocols. And for the comfort and convenience of our guests, we are increasing the number of hand sanitizer units in our parks.  We will continue to closely monitor the situation and be ready to act as needed.”

Knott’s Berry Farm said it is “aware of the new guidance issued by the State of California last night,” and “is open today as we understand and evaluate what this means for our park, our guests and our associates.”