Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek said on Tuesday that he expects the company's theme parks in the U.S. state of California to reopen by late April.
During the 2021 annual meeting of shareholders, Chapek noted Disney was "encouraged by the positive trends we're seeing" in California.
"We are hopeful they'll continue to improve and we'll be able to reopen our parks by late April -- we look forward to publicizing an opening date in the coming weeks," the chief executive officer of the U.S. entertainment giant said in a statement.
Theme parks, including Disneyland -- one of the most visited tourist attractions in Southern California, have been closed since March last year amid coronavirus fears.
California authorities announced last week that theme parks and stadiums in the state will be allowed to reopen as early as April 1 with capacity restrictions and other safety modifications.
According to the updates of the state's Blueprint to a Safer Economy unveiled by the California Department of Public Health, theme parks in the counties in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier of California's four-tier, color-coded system for reopening, are not allowed to reopen. But theme parks in the red tier will be eligible to reopen at 15 percent capacity. Maximum capacity will be increased to 25 percent for theme parks in the counties in the orange tier and to 35 percent in the yellow tier.
Almost all Southern California counties are still in the purple tier, but some of them, including Orange County where Disneyland is located, are on track to move into the red tier in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop in the region.
Chapek applauded the new guidelines in the statement.
"While last week's announcement states that theme parks may open starting on April 1, the fact is it will take some time to get them ready for our guests - this includes recalling more than 10,000 furloughed cast and retraining them to be able to operate according to the State of California's new requirements," Chapek added.
Disney has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. The company said that since late in the second quarter of fiscal 2020 and continuing into fiscal 2021, COVID-19 and measures to prevent its spread have impacted their segments in a number of ways, most significantly at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Just in the most recent quarter ended Jan. 2, according to Disney reports, the pandemic had cost its parks, experiences and products segment an estimated 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in operating income, while segment revenues decreased by 53 percent to 3.6 billion dollars.