ORLANDO, Fla. - Walt Disney World will soon offer on-site COVID-19 testing for cast members, their families, and Florida residents.
Disney says the decision to make drive-thru testing available on property was part of an ongoing discussion with the state health department. That decision encouraged Actor’s Equity Association to sign a memorandum of understanding allowing the actors, singers and stage managers to return to their jobs.
Walt Disney World and the union for its actors and singers reached an agreement on Wednesday that will allow them to return to work, more than a month after they said they were locked out of the reopening of the theme park resort for publicly demanding coronavirus tests.
“We have been consistent that testing is an important part of ensuring a safe workplace for Equity performers, and today, I’m pleased to see that Disney World has agreed,” Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement.
The union represents 750 Disney World workers.
Disney officials said in a notice to its workers that there would be a dedicated testing lane for its workers and their families. Reservations can be made for testing starting Thursday.
“As a reminder, testing is voluntary and Cast Members will not be paid for testing time,” the notice said.
Disney released a statement later Wednesday saying that allowing the testing locations was not in response to union demands.
“The Florida Division of Emergency Management will operate the location, which is available to cast members and their immediate families, as well as Florida residents,” the statement said. “Our actions support all cast and our community at large.”
Actors’ Equity Association filed a labor grievance against Disney World, saying its members faced retaliation for demanding the coronavirus tests before Disney World’s theme parks reopened to visitors last month after being closed since March because of the pandemic. About 220 actors and singers initially were called back to work, but that invitation was rescinded after the union made public its concerns about the lack of testing, according to the union.
It was unclear how many actors and singers would be called back now that an agreement has been signed.
The new site opens on Friday, August 14 and will take patients from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. It is located at Disney’s administrative complex at 3010 Maingate Lane in Kissimmee, off U.S. 192. The tests will be self-administered with a nasal swab from inside the car. Results can be expected in three to five days.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest coronavirus news.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.