Disney World puts pause on COVID vaccine mandate, cast member tells FOX 35
ORLANDO, Fla. - Walt Disney World is putting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on pause, a cast member tells FOX 35 News.
Nick Caturano, who runs the website GoofyVaccine.com confirmed that an internal memo was sent out to employees, notifying them of the pause.
According to Nick's website, he's been a cast member at Disney World for 16 years. Caturano talked to Good Day Orlando on Saturday describing the memo that he says he and fellow cast members received.
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"We all want to go back to a sense of normalcy. We all hoped the vaccine would do the trick. And it seemed like it was starting to work but people are getting the COVID...to separate them it doesn't make sense."
FOX 35 obtained a copy of an internal memo that Disney sent to cast members addressing changes to its COVID-19 vaccine policy. The full text of the memo can be found at the bottom of this article.
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Disney says more than 90% of Florida cast members have verified they are fully vaccinated. Those who aren't will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
Disney World's vaccine pause comes after Governor Ron DeSantis signed new legislation this week protecting workers from vaccine mandates.
A statement from a Disney spokesperson sent to FOX 35 said:
"We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our Cast Members and Guests, and at this point, more than 90 percent of active Florida-based Cast Members have already verified that they are fully vaccinated. We will address legal developments as appropriate."
Meanwhile, the office of Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a statement about the new Disney update.
"As we would expect, Disney has amended its vaccination policy to comply with Florida law. We believe that all companies in Florida will likewise follow the law signed by Governor DeSantis this week.
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Nobody should lose his or her job over these mandates. Disney is a major employer in Florida, and we are proud that the "happiest place on Earth" is here in our state. Governor DeSantis' leadership has saved countless jobs and livelihoods before this holiday season.
We hope Disney and any other company that has suspended or terminated workers due to vaccine mandates will consider re-hiring them."
FULL TEXT OF MEMO BY DISNEY ADDRESSING COVID-19 VACCINE POLICY UPDATE:
"As you know, in July the company announced that based on the recommendations of scientists, health officials, and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best defense against the virus, the company was implementing a mandatory vaccination policy. Under our policy, all U.S.-based salaried and hourly non-union employees, as well as employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that adopts this policy, are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their continued employment. The company's view of the wisdom of that approach has not changed.
"We remain confident in the approach we have taken with our mandatory vaccine policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees, with more than 90% of our active Florida-based Cast Members and employees having verified that they are fully vaccinated, and we consider this to be very successful.
"Due to the passage this week of a new Florida law on employer vaccine mandates, and the federal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard mandating the vaccine being stayed, we must pause the enforcement of our policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees.
"As we assess the full impact of this new legislation, we are immediately pausing the enforcement of our mandatory vaccination policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees until further notice.
"All Florida-based Cast Members and employees who have not verified full vaccination will be required to follow our safety protocols for unvaccinated Cast Members, including face coverings and physical distancing.
"While Florida-based Cast Members and employees do not currently have to verify vaccination status, they may still do so through the TrustAssure process. Cast Members and employees who do not verify vaccination status through the TrustAssure process will be considered as unvaccinated.
"All pending requests by Florida-based Cast Members and employees for an accommodation exempting them from the company's vaccine mandate will be considered on hold for the time being and will not be evaluated by the company. Should the company later resume its accommodations process in Florida, pending requests for accommodation will be evaluated at that time."
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates.