Hong Kong Disneyland set to reopen for a second time while California parks remain shuttered

A locked gate is seen after the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park has been closed, following the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2020.

Tyrone Siu | REUTERS

Disney’s Hong Kong-based theme park will finally be permitted to reopen this Friday, two months after it was forced to shut down for a second time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hong Kong relaxed a number of Covid-19 restrictions last week after testing of nearly 2 million people in the region, and finding only 42  cases of the virus.

Walt Disney only holds a minority stake in the park, while Hong Kong holds the majority stake. Guests will be required to wear face masks and all indoor live performances will be canceled. Additionally, the park will be closed initially on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

While the reopening of Hong Kong Disneyland is a positive development for Disney, it underscores how difficult it has been for the company to reopen other parks, particularly in the U.S.

Florida allowed Disney World to reopen its theme parks in July, but the company’s two parks in California have been closed for more than six months. There were plans for the Anaheim-based locations to open in July as well, but a spike in Covid-19 cases led California to retract guidelines.

The closure has been a tough financial blow to Disney, which makes most of its parks revenue from its U.S.-based locations. Disney’s stock, which has a market value of $229 billion, has fallen 12% since the start of the year. Shares were up about 1% in trading on Tuesday. 

Disney’s theme parks are part of a broader segment called parks, experiences and consumer products, which also includes its hotels, cruise lines and merchandise. Last year, this segment accounted for 37% of the company’s $69.6 billion in total revenue.

Head of Parks Josh D’Amaro was quick to note that more than 80,000 people rely on the company for employment in the area, during a Disney Parks update with media on Tuesday.

“To our California government officials, particularly at the state level, I encourage you to treat theme parks like you would other sectors,” he said. “Help us reopen. We need guidelines that are fair and equitable to better understand our future and chart a path towards reopening. The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be to the Orange County and Anaheim communities.”

The media update was a way for Disney to highlight its success at its Florida parks and internationally in Paris, Shanghai and Japan, as well as to showcase the updated safety measures it has in place already. These policies include requiring masks, having sanitation stations widely available, online mobile ordering for meals and cashless pay.

“We’re ready and, more importantly, it’s time,” D’Amaro said.

Community helps store reopen after looting

CHICAGO (WLS) — A family-owned clothing store is finally back open after looters ransacked the place in May.

The store didn’t have insurance, but support from the community is helping them get back on their feet.

It’s been a challenge for the Kim family to get the doors back open at City Fashions at E 34th Street and King Drive in Chicago’s Bronzeville.

“I never worked so hard before and finally just being open is unreal feeling right now,” said Edward Kim.

Several stores in the strip mall were hit by looters. Kim said his dad watched as their livelihood was destroyed within minutes.

“One person broke the window at the front door and 20 to 30 people went into the store and ransacked the place,” he said. “That’s when my dad was outside in the parking lot just watching.”

“This store is like a family business, so I know them,” said customer Kanisha Hudson. “I am always shopping here, so I was upset.”

At the time of the incident, the family said they were shopping for a new insurance policy.

“The next day we went [and] he saw the actual destruction, the results,” Kim said. “He just like, kind of fainted.”

The store was already struggling to recover from the COVID-19 stay at home order.

The family started a GoFundMe and was able to raise $200,000 in a little more than a week.

“I got to say, it helps so much when you there is good people out there looking out for you,” Kim said.

The Kims have since moved into a new space within the same strip mall earlier this summer and started renovations.

“Everything needed to be fixed like HVAC, water; the roof needed to be fixed. So it was a process,” Kim said. “We had to take out all the carpet and replace it was new floors and paint the whole place.”

The family said they are hoping that their hard times are now in the past as their new space marks a new beginning.

“We have a lot of long term customers coming back saying that they are happy that we are reopen. It is nice to see how many people actually care,” Kim said.

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Dubai's iconic tourist attractions reopen amid the pandemic

As countries around the world grapple with reopening their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, the emirate of Dubai is back open for tourism, a sector vital to its economy. But will potential visitors be convinced to venture out? CNBC’s Natasha Turak is in Dubai to explore how the city’s most famous tourist attractions are faring and whether their reopening strategies are successful.

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Gyms reopen at 25% capacity; mandatory masks

As parents across the state get ready for the start of school, News 12 New Jersey spoke with Marisa Brahney from NJ Mom so see what concerns some parents still have.

As parents across the state get ready for the start of school, News 12 New Jersey spoke with Marisa Brahney from NJ Mom so see what concerns some parents still have.

Prince George prepares for one BIG change when schools reopen in September

Prince William and Kate Middleton have been homeschooling their children for the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Prince George will be going into Year 3 and Princess Charlotte will be starting Year 1 at Thomas’ Battersea in London.

As six-year-old Prince George will be entering Middle School, his fees will increase.

The price will jump from £6,655 per term to £7,520.

Princess Charlotte will have lower fees as she will still be in the Reception to Year 2 tier.

But because she is also the second child enrolled at the London school, she has slightly lower fees as a discount of £6,560 per term rather than £6,655.

If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third child, Prince Louis, also attends the same school when he is old enough then he will get a further discount at £6,325 for his first three years for being the third sibling to be enrolled.

The Cambridges have been homeschooling their children at their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk.

The Duchess of Cambridge has previously admitted that she felt a bit guilty when she continued to home-school Prince George and Princess Charlotte during the Easter holidays.

She said: “Don’t tell the children, we’ve actually kept it going through the holidays. I feel very mean.”

READ MORE: Prince George could save cousin Archie Harrison from royal rule

The family were spotted in July on the Isles of Scilly.

The Duchess was also recently seen at Burnham Market pottery painting with her three children.

The Cambridges are also expected to travel up to Scotland for a few days to visit the Queen as they normally do at this time of the year.

The family are then expected to return to London before school starts.

The Queen is currently on holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

She would normally return to Buckingham Palace after her annual Scottish vacations.

But Her Majesty is expected to be returning to Windsor Castle due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen and Prince Philip have been staying in Windsor since March when the outbreak was starting.

It will be the longest time the Queen has been away from the central seat of the monarchy during her reign.

The Queen’s public engagements have been scaled back due to the pandemic which has swept the nation.

Movie theaters are starting to reopen. Will anyone go?

AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, is reopening more than 100 US locations on Thursday after closing their doors in March. Other major chains like Regal Cinemas and Alamo Drafthouse will also return this weekend, while Cinemark started its phased reopening last weekend. Roughly 1,400 of the 6,000 venues in North America are currently open, according to Comscore (SCOR). (Track how box-office sales have been hit on our recovery dashboard.)

It’s a monumental moment for theaters and the film industry at large. The next few weeks and months will give Hollywood an idea of whether the movie theater industry can bounce back after being ravaged by coronavirus.

It’s not going to be easy.

Few fresh blockbusters

For starters, theaters like AMC won’t have many big films to show for a couple of weeks. Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” doesn’t hit theaters in the United States until September 3, and Disney’s “Mulan” is not on AMC’s release slate. It hits Disney+ on September 4.

Other films like “Unhinged” and “The New Mutants” are opening sooner, but aren’t exactly well-known titles moviegoers are itching to see.

Until then, theaters are offering old movies like “Inception” and “Black Panther” to get people in the door.

AMC is reopening its theaters next week with 15-cent tickets

Is it safe?

Getting people back to the movies during a pandemic is more than just having films that people want to see. Theater chains have to win over consumers who have gotten used to watching movies at home and who aren’t sure about the safety of sitting indoors with strangers for hours at a time.

Theaters have to convey a sense of safety and cleanliness.

AMC is requiring all guests to wear masks under its “Safe & Clean” initiative. It’s also capping theater capacity and upgrading ventilation systems. It’s yet to be seen whether those protocols will give moviegoers a strong sense of security.

Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNN Business that “it’s up to the theaters to ensure that they are so well prepared in creating the safest and most appealing environment possible.”

Degarabedian noted that “the sentiment of the moviegoers who go over the next few weeks needs to be positive.” That’s what will “give the theaters the best shot at drawing in, and more importantly, keeping patrons coming back,” he said.

Canadian theaters have already reopened and are showing some of the movies hitting the United States soon — such as “Unhinged” — but attendance has been tepid.

Competition is fierce and money is tight

The pandemic has put millions of people out of work, so disposable income is limited for many.

And consumers are at this point accustomed to staying home and watching Netflix (NFLX), Disney+ and a slew of other streaming services for a monthly subscription cost that runs roughly the same as the average cost of a ticket.

“Wallets are tight right now, and most people have to do a cost-benefit analysis for nearly everything in their lives,” Dergarabedian said. “While movies have traditionally been a bargain compared to other outside the home activities, price matters.”

AMC (AMC) made news last week when it announced it would sell tickets for just 15 cents on opening day. After that, the chain is offering tickets at a lower-than-usual price for older movie titles.

The big question: Is it worth it?

Coronavirus cases are still prevalent across the country, and moviegoing poses a risk because the virus often spreads more easily indoors.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that gyms would reopen in the state later this month, but movie theaters would stay closed.

“I am sure there is a whole group of people who say, ‘I cannot live without going to the movies.’ But on a relative scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk,” Cuomo said. “Movie theaters are not that high on the list of essentials.”

Schools POLL: Do you trust No10 to reopen schools safely? VOTE

Schools across England are due to reopen their doors in September after they were shut down in March to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is “crucial” headteachers are “ready for a full return to school in September” as it is part of the UK’s plan for economic recovery as the nation battles against the COVD-19 pandemic.

It comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson remains under intense pressure to resign after he was forced to abandon the algorithm-based system for awarding A-level and GCSE grades in England.

But the U-turn came too late for thousands of A-level students who have already made choices about universities based on the grades they were initially awarded, rather than the new system of using teachers’ assessments.

Express.co.uk is asking you in light of this controversy, do you trust Number 10 to reopen schools safely?

This week the UK Government launched its #backtoschoolsafely campaign to reassure parents and pupils that schools and colleges are ready ahead of the full return of pupils at the start of term.

Mr Williamson said the risks of not returning are “too high to ignore” as he acknowledged that children will need “lots of support when they return” and pointed to the £1billion “Covid catch-up fund”.

He told the Sunday Express “two hours of tutoring per week for twelve weeks can result in five months of academic catch up”.

But concerns have been raised over the UK Government’s lack of planning and guidance for pupils to return after Mr Johnson said it was a “moral duty” to get children back into school.

A recent Office for National Statistics poll found although people expect children to school in September they do have strong concerns, with more than two-thirds (64 percent) saying they were very or “somewhat worried”.

The top concern (64 percent) is that young people could catch COVID-19. The second biggest worry (47 percent) is about “how prepared their school or college will be for keeping pupils safe”.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of teachers union the National Education Union, warned a lack of planning could put children’s learning at risk in the long term.

She said: “We’ve always wanted schools to be back, for schools to be open, but we remain concerned that we can’t see a Plan B.

“Given the possibility a full return doesn’t work, it’s a very fragile response from the government. The worst thing you can do is reopen schools and then have to close them all.”

The warnings come just days after Professor Chris Whitty suggested pubs could be forced to close to allow schools to reopen safely.

This all comes while Mr Williamson faces calls to resign over his handling of A-level and GCSE grades in England.

The Government announced a U-turn on Monday when it said students would be able to receive grades based on their teachers’ estimates following anger over the downgrading of thousands of A-level grades.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Williamson said: “What we’re doing is we’re focusing on delivering the grades for those children.

“We’re making sure that we’re going to make sure that all schools are returned and I’m absolutely determined over the coming year that I’m going to be delivering the world’s best education system.”