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Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers, Disney officials said.

Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.

“In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic — exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen — we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment,” Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement.

Non-working cast members have been furloughed since April, but the company was still paying their health care benefits, D’Amaro wrote.

Disneyland officials and the mayors of several Orange County cities recently called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to release guidelines that would bring theme parks closer to reopening in the Golden State, warning that a lack of action could lead to dire consequences for employees and local economies.

“Tens of thousands of people’s livelihoods depend on our ability to operate and we stand ready and willing to accelerate discussions with the Governor and his team to make ‘real progress’ toward our reopening and getting people back to work,”  Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said in a statement released about two weeks ago.

The city of Anaheim, where the resort is located, is facing a $100 million budget deficit. By mid-September, the unemployment was already at 15%, with 25,000 people out of work and more job losses likely, according to Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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