Walt Disney World to close theme parks through end of month

Orlando is the nation’s most visited tourist destination, bringing vast numbers of people from around the globe to its major theme parks including Walt Disney World. (Orlando Sentinel via AP)
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Updated 13 March 2020

Walt Disney World to close theme parks through end of month

  • Decision was made ‘in an abundance of caution’ to protect guests and employees
  • Orlando is the nation’s most visited tourist destination, bringing vast numbers of people from around the globe to its major theme parks

MIAMI: Theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort will be closing through the end of the month, starting at the close of business Sunday, the Walt Disney Company announced.
The company said in a statement Thursday that the decision was made “in an abundance of caution” to protect guests and employees amid the global outbreak of the new coronavirus. The decision came hours after the announcement of the planned closure of Disneyland in California.
Additionally, Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday and continuing through the end of the month, the statement said. The Walt Disney Company will pay its cast members during that closure period, according to the release.
The hotels at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open, along with the shops and restaurants at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, according to the news release.
Orlando is the nation’s most visited tourist destination, bringing vast numbers of people from around the globe to its major theme parks, which also include Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. The city attracted 75 million visitors in 2018. No one has tested positive in the two counties that are home to the popular amusement parks.
Universal Orlando Resort also announced in its own emailed statement that it will temporarily close its theme parks starting at the end of business on Sunday. The company said it anticipates remaining closed through the end of March but will continue to evaluate the situation.
It added that Universal Orlando’s hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open and that it has instituted flexible programs for guests who had booked travel packages and tickets with the resort.
In a day of fast-moving developments, NASCAR announced a March 22 race in Homestead, Florida would take place without fans.
And Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced the cancelation of the Miami Open tennis tournament.
Florida’s governor has strongly advised municipalities and businesses to limit or postpone large gatherings as concerns spiked over the new coronavirus.
The number of cases statewide was raised to 42 after the state health department announced late Thursday that 15 people ranging in ages from 20 to 83 tested positive for COVID-19. Most appear to be travel-related but in at least six cases, the cause was not immediately clear.
“I am recommending to local municipalities and private entities to strongly considering limiting or postponing mass gatherings,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Thursday in Miami.


Couple run Dubai balcony marathon to beat coronavirus blues

Updated 29 March 2020

Couple run Dubai balcony marathon to beat coronavirus blues

  • The couple covered 42.2km by running more than 2,100 laps
  • The whole distance took them 5 hours, 9 minutes and 39 seconds

DUBAI: A South African couple who ran a marathon on the balcony of their Dubai apartment, streaming it online, plan to take the project global to help people shake off the coronavirus blues.

Collin Allin, 41, and wife Hilda covered the 42.2-kilometer distance by running more than 2,100 laps of their 20-meter long balcony from dawn on Saturday.

A stopwatch provided by the couple shows they covered the distance in five hours, nine minutes and 39 seconds.

“We did it ... #balconymarathon,” Allin said on Instagram, congratulating his wife on her first ever marathon and thanking the virtual crowd that cheered them on.

“Thank you for all the love and support for doing something silly... was great to have you all along for the ride,” he said.
The couple’s 10-year-old daughter Geena acted as race director, putting up signs marking “start” and “turn around” and providing her parents with water and snacks as well as inspirational music.

Allin said he planned to organize a “bigger, global and more inclusive run next” where people who are under lockdown but keen to stretch their legs can join for a few kilometers or more.
“This is about giving people something else to think about,” Allin told AFP. “It’s about getting people to connect, as everyone is worried about the impact of coronavirus.”
The pandemic has wiped out international sporting schedules and triggered lockdowns that have limited options for outdoor exercise in many countries, but enterprising people have found ways to fit in a workout.
Elisha Nochomovitz, a 32-year-old who lives near the French city of Toulouse, ran a marathon on his balcony which measures just seven meters.
He reportedly managed the feat in six hours and 48 minutes, nearly double his best marathon finish time.