by Mike Schneider, Associated Press | May 19, 2020
As Walt Disney World prepares to allow some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex later this week, it's posting a warning.
 
While enhanced safety measures are being taken at Disney Springs, "an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present," the company said Monday on a website for the entertainment complex.
 
"COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable," the warning said. "By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."
 
The opening of some shops and restaurants at Disney Springs on Wednesday marks the latest baby steps Orlando's theme park resorts are taking toward reopening since mid-March when the spread of the new coronavirus forced them to shut their gates.
 
Last week, Universal Orlando allowed the opening of about a half-dozen restaurants and eateries, as well as two retail shops and some merchandise carts at its Citywalk entertainment complex.
 
Next week, Disney World plans to open more shops and restaurants at Disney Springs, a high-end outdoor shopping area with restaurants, movie theaters, a bowling alley and a Cirque du Soleil theater.
 
All workers and visitors over age two will be required to wear face masks at Disney Springs. Workers and visitors also will have to get temperature checks and anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be denied entry. The number of guests allowed in will be limited to encourage social distancing, and extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be in place, the company said.
 
Neither Disney World nor Universal officials have said when they plan to reopen theme parks and hotels at their resorts.
 
After negotiating with the company, the unions that represent more than half of the 77,000 employees at Disney World said last week that workers who contract COVID-19 will get paid time off while in quarantine. Workers with virus symptoms also can stay home without being disciplined for being absent. Workers will be given thermometers if they want them, and each worker will be given three face masks, according to the agreed-upon terms.