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Disney World pauses COVID-19 vaccination mandate policy for park staff

The Walt Disney Company previously made vaccinations mandatory in July for all salaried and non-union hourly employees working on-site. ...

Walt Disney World Resort
  • Walt Disney World Resort is halting its COVID vaccine requirement for employees working on-site.
  • A company spokesperson told Reuters that 90% of its Florida-based employees are fully vaccinated against COVID.
  • Vaccine "mandates" for employees in the private sector remain a controversial topic in the United States. 

The Walt Disney World Resort has placed a hold on its COVID-19 vaccination protocol for employees, a spokesperson for Disney told Reuters on Saturday.

The Orlando, Florida, resort is the first and currently the only part of Disney to backtrack on the company-wide vaccination policy enacted in July. The policy made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all on-site salaried and non-union hourly employees in the US, as cases of the Delta variant began rising in the summer.

"We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we have continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our Cast Members and Guests," the spokesperson said to Reuters in an email.

More than 90% of active Florida-based cast members have verified their vaccination status, the spokesperson added. Walt Disney World employs 77,000 employees at the park as of September, according to NPR.

Spokespersons for Disney did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Earlier this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law making the state the first in the country to impose fines on businesses and hospitals requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Biden administration updated its COVID vaccine guidelines earlier this month, requiring millions of workers across industries to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular COVID testing starting January 4. A federal court subsequently blocked the mandate, calling it "staggeringly overbroad."

Walt Disney Company executives were among those present at a meeting with White House officials in October to discuss the implications of a COVID vaccine requirement for workers, especially in the midst of labor shortages and supply chain issues. 

Meanwhile, the number of COVID cases in the US has risen gradually since the end of October, according to the CDC, with the rate of vaccinations beginning to plateau as of publication.

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