Disney World agrees to onsite COVID-19 testing for cast members, ends impasse with actors’ union


 

Florida will begin providing coronavirus testing for Disney World cast members this week, ending a nearly two-month dispute with a union that represents stage actors at the park.

According to Disney, the testing site will be run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and will be located on Disney property, though not in the park. Testing will be available to Disney employees and visitors, as well as Florida residents.

Disney officials said in a notice to its workers that there would be a dedicated testing lane for its workers and their families, and that reservations could be made for testing starting Thursday.

“As a reminder, testing is voluntary and cast members will not be paid for testing time,” the notice said.

According to Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association, the union has signed a memorandum of understanding with Disney for hundreds of actors to return to work.

“We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed,” Shindle said in a statement Wednesday.

The Actors’ Equity Association represents 51,000 stage performers nationwide, including about 750 at Disney World.

Disney released a statement to the Associated Press later Wednesday saying that allowing the testing location was not in response to union demands.

“Our actions support all cast and our community at large,” the statement said.

The testing center will be located outside the Disney Maingate Complex in Kissimmee, Florida, and will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The tests will be self-administered by people in their vehicles, and results will take three to five days.

The union began pushing Disney World to offer testing for its members in late June, before the park’s July reopening. The actors could not do their jobs wearing masks or keeping social distance, the union said.

Shindle cited the death of Broadway actor Nick Cordero last month as an example of the devastating impact of the virus. Cordero, 41, had been hospitalized since March, had one leg amputated because of blood clots and battled infection in both lungs before his death.

Coronavirus can leave survivors with lung damage.

“This is not a disease to be taken lightly,” Shindle told USA TODAY. “It can have a long-term effect on making your living as a performer, even if you are lucky enough to survive.”


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Posted Aug 14th, 2020

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