Walt Disney Co. is taking an unprecedented step to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The new policy could eventually be extended to cover tens of thousands of workers at Disney's theme parks, including in Anaheim and Orlando.
The sweeping decision comes amid a rise in cases of the Delta variant.
"At the Walt Disney Co., the safety and well-being of our employees during the pandemic has been and continues to be a top priority," the company said Friday afternoon in a statement.
"Based on the latest recommendations of scientists, health officials and our own medical professionals that the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against severe infection, we are requiring that all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. working at any of our sites be fully vaccinated," Disney said.
Disney employs more than 200,000 workers.
Earlier this week, Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other theme parks said they would require guests to wear masks in all indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
The Burbank entertainment colossus said Friday it has begun negotiations with union officials with the goal of extending the vaccination policy to cover those in bargaining units, including theme park workers and movie and television production crews.
Vaccinations will also be required for all new employees.
"Employees who aren't already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions," Disney said in the statement. "Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees."©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.