Busch Gardens Williamsburg has furloughed most of its employees and has closed the park until further notice due to coronavirus concerns.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, parent company of Busch Gardens, posted the update on its website Friday and announced all of the company’s theme parks would remain temporarily closed.
“We are continuing to monitor this evolving COVID-19, coronavirus, situation closely and coordinating with public health officials,” the blog post read. “We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back to our parks soon.”
Animal care experts would continue to look after the animals and ride openings with new launch dates would continue once the parks’ reopen.
SeaWorld Entertainment filed Form 8-K with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, citing the company “will or has” temporarily furloughed more than 90 percent of its employees as of April 1 due to the coronavirus.
“The furloughed employees will not receive compensation from the Company during the furlough period after March 31, 2020; however, subject to local regulations, these employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits,” according to the SEC filing.
Cindy Sarko, spokeswoman for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, sent the following statement in an email Saturday, courtesy of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment:
“As a company in an industry dependent on travel and tourism, the current pandemic has impacted our business significantly. Our parks will remain closed and are unable to generate revenue; therefore, we have made the painful but necessary business decision to temporarily furlough over 90% of our current workforce, including corporate employees, to position the company for long-term viability. During this time, our focus is on resuming normal operations and welcoming back guests and Ambassadors as quickly as possible.”
It’s unclear what positions are not being furloughed and Sarko did not immediately respond for further comment.
As of Saturday, James City County has 65 positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Newport News has 13, York County has 9, Hampton has 7, Williamsburg has 6 and Poquoson has 2, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s website.
There are now 739 cases statewide and 18 people have died in Virginia from the coronavirus: 7 in the Peninsula Health District, 2 in Henrico County Health District, 2 in Fairfax County Health Department, 1 in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District, 1 in Prince William Health District, 1 in Western Tidewater Health District, 1 in Loudoun County Health Department and 1 in the Virginia Beach Health District. It’s unclear where the two other deaths occurred.
The Peninsula Health District covers Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County and York County.
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