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Coronavirus: Disney shutting California parks till end of March over COVID-19 concerns

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Walt Disney Co will close its Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Southern California from Saturday through the end of the month due to the global outbreak of coronavirus, the company said on Thursday.

No cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported at the parks in Anaheim, California, a company representative said in a statement.

Comcast Corp’s Universal Studios theme park in Southern California also will close on Saturday and expects to reopen March 28, the company said.

Earlier on Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom had recommended against gatherings of more than 250 people to help contain the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than three dozen people in the United States.

Disney decided to close both of its Southern California parks after reviewing Newsom’s guidelines “and in the best interest of our guests and employees,” its statement said.

The Disney-run hotels in Anaheim will remain open through Monday to give guests time to make travel arrangements, the company said. Disney will pay its employees during the shutdown and refund payments for hotel bookings, it added.

Located about 30 miles (48 km) south of Los Angeles, the two Disney parks drew 28.6 million visitors in 2018, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

Disneyland, which opened in 1955, is nicknamed the “Happiest Place on Earth.” The adjacent California Adventure was added in 2001.

After Disney’s announcement, S&P revised Disney’s credit outlook to negative from stable, citing event cancellations and travel restrictions due to coronavirus.

“The negative outlook on Disney reflects the increased uncertainty around the extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global economy,” S&P said.

It is unusual for Disney to close its theme parks. Brief shutdowns have occurred due to hurricanes or the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Earlier this year, Disney shuttered its parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo to protect against coronavirus spread.

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