Walt Disney World confirmed to FOX Business on Saturday that it has suspended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“We believe 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, and at this point over 90% of active Cast members based in Florida Members have already verified that they are fully vaccinated, ”a Disney spokesperson said. “We will address legal developments as appropriate.”
An internal Disney memo said the hiatus would remain in effect as the company “assesses new state laws protecting workers from vaccination warrants,” according to FOX 35 Orlando. The station said it obtained a copy of the internal memo sent to Disney cast members.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE VACCINE MANDATE: PASSENGERS 5 YEARS OLD AND OLDER MUST BE COMPLETELY VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
Nick Caturano, a cast member at Disney World for over 16 years, told FOX Business on Saturday that he heard that managers were leaking emails detailing the move two hours before the cast members gave them away. receive.
“For me personally, I was trying to contact Disney and reason with them when I wrote my open letter on the website. I suppose. And I heard probably around noon that managers were disclosing that they were getting these emails that they were going to stop mandates. And, as regular cast members, we’ve had it [at around] 2 pm, ”he explained.
Caturano operates the GoofyVaccine.com website, which presents an open letter to the company questioning Disney’s vaccine requirements.
In July, Disney said it would make vaccination mandatory for all salaried and non-union hourly workers locally in the United States, giving them a deadline of the end of September.
In August, Disney said it would require unionized workers to show proof of vaccination by October 22 to keep their jobs, with the option to seek exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Caturano said his experience with COVID-19 infection was part of what “has [him] get up.”
“That and a lot of actors looked to me because they were really scared. They didn’t want to lose their jobs but they were scared to shoot because everyone – a lot of us thought it didn’t have it all. just not been checked. long enough, “he said,” We weren’t against the vaccine. We just didn’t think there was enough… got me to take a stand and I wanted to just reasoning with Disney, then it turned into something else. “
It all comes after Republican Sunshine State Governor Ron DeSantis signed extraordinary session legislation that places new restrictions on COVID-19 vaccine mandates by employers.
“I told Floridians we would protect their jobs and today we made it law,” DeSantis said. “No one should lose their job due to tough COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida. I thank the Florida Legislature for joining me in defending freedom. “
Effective immediately, private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are banned, employers who violate employee health protections will be fined up to $ 50,000 per violation, government entities cannot require COVID-19 vaccinations from anyone, educational institutions cannot require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, school districts may not have policies on face masks in school or quarantine students in good health. Parents and students can sue school districts for violations and recover legal costs and fees.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FOX BUSINESS
Another bill signed by DeSantis prevents the public health official from being able to impose vaccines during a public health emergency. He also approved a bill directing the state to begin considering a withdrawal from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which drafted the White House’s vaccine requirements for businesses. private companies with more than 100 employees.
“We make sure that people have the right to earn a living, people have the right to have protections in their workplace and that parents have protections to be able to direct the education of their children,” he said. the governor said in a statement. signing ceremony.
Democrats criticized the bills as being politically motivated and dangerous to public health.
“As might be expected, Disney has changed its vaccination policy to comply with Florida law. We believe all businesses in Florida will also follow the law signed by Governor DeSantis this week,” said the governor’s office in a statement to FOX 35. “No one should lose their job during these terms. Disney is a major employer in Florida, and we’re proud that the“ happiest place on earth ”is here in our state. Governor DeSantis’s leadership saved countless jobs and livelihoods before this holiday season. “
“We hope that Disney and any other company that has suspended or fired workers due to vaccination mandates will consider rehiring them,” the office said.
Caturano told FOX Business that Florida case rates have fallen since their peak this summer.
“I love that DeSantis has pushed him, is fighting for all of us. He has really been a voice for us, and I think he really supports science,” he said.
Florida – especially Miami-Dade County – is still among the states with the highest case rates, according to the John’s Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
COVID-19 cases in the United States are on the rise again, especially in cold states like Michigan.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said this week there had been a slight increase in hospitalizations among those vaccinated but unstimulated.
GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
However, he noted, the majority of hospitalizations still involve unvaccinated people.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that nearly 196 million Americans are fully immunized and 33.5 million people have received a booster dose.
“We have 62 million Americans eligible for vaccines who still haven’t been vaccinated. The data I’m showing you doesn’t lie. Vaccines protect you, your family and your community,” he said. voicing alongside CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky. “And most importantly, it is not too late, as Dr Walensky said. Get vaccinated now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.