ORLANDO, Fla. — As the nation and Florida grapple with an alarming surge in coronavirus infections, the Walt Disney Company said Friday it will require thousands of its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
What You Need To Know
- Disney will require some of its U.S.-based employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine
- The policy will apply to all salaried and nonunion hourly "cast members," or workers
- Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will also be required for all new hires
- Disney World just reinstated its indoor face covering mandate for all guests
The policy will apply to all salaried and nonunion hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of Disney’s sites.
“At The Walt Disney Company, the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority,” Disney said in a statement to Spectrum News.
Employees who are not vaccinated and working on-site will have 60 days to comply. For employees who are still working from home, they will need to provide proof of vaccination before returning to any Disney sites. And all new hires will need to be vaccinated before they start their employment.
Disney said the decision was based on the latest recommendations from scientists, health officials and its own medical professionals.
"Vaccines are the best tool we have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees," Disney said in the statement.
The company is currently in talks with the unions that represent its employees about the requirement.
Eric Clinton is president of Unite Here Local 362, the union that represents custodial and attractions cast members at Disney World.
"We think the best line of defense is to be vaccinated," Clinton said.
He added that those employees come in contact with thousands of visitors every day.
The news comes the same day Disney reinstated the indoor mask rule at Disney World and Disneyland. All guests, ages 2 and older, are required to wear face masks in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. Masks remain optional in outdoor common areas.
Earlier in the week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance recommending that vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in places with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. Florida, where Disney World is located, is in a high transmission area. In the past week, the Florida Department of Health reported 110,477 new coronavirus cases in the state and 108 deaths.
Disney joins Google and Facebook in requiring vaccines for some of its workforce in recent days. Amid the nationwide case surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, Google pushed back a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolled out a policy that will require everyone to be vaccinated once its campuses reopen.