(p. A1) More than 30,000 visitors to the Shanghai Disneyland theme park were kept within the park’s gates on Sunday [October 31, 2021] and forced to undergo Covid-19 testing after a customer tested positive for the virus, a move that underscores China’s eradication efforts.
With fireworks exploding above them as they awaited nasal swabs, the Disney visitors became the latest Chinese residents to experience life under a “zero tolerance” policy for the virus enforced by their country’s government. Leaders there have taken stringent measures to contain pockets of the coronavirus in the country, despite criticism from business groups and a close to 80% vaccination rate.
“I never thought that the longest queue in Disneyland would be for a nucleic acid test,” one visitor said on social media.
(p. A6) Disney’s gargantuan mainland park—home to a Tomorrowland, Gardens of Imagination and Mickey Avenue—turned into a giant testing site late into Sunday evening, with guests required to be tested before being allowed to leave. The last visitor walked out at 10:30 p.m., said a Walt Disney Co. spokesman. Disney, which is a minority owner in the resort and has seen a spectrum of responses to Covid-19 at its parks around the world, had to comply with China’s local protocols, said the spokesman.
The shutdown on Sunday illustrates the lack of control Disney and other Western firms have in China, especially as officials work to clamp down Covid-19 outbreaks. The world’s largest entertainment company has yet to see park attendance return to pre-pandemic levels, and Sunday’s shutdown highlights the difficulties of reopening the global tourism economy while the threat of outbreaks still looms.
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The mass testing proved a surreal scene. Videos shared by guests on social media showed swarms of people—many dressed up in Halloween costumes—queuing up for tests before they could leave. One showed the Disney evening fireworks erupting behind workers in hazmat suits conducting tests for park visitors.
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(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 1, 2021, and has the title “China Locks 30,000 Visitors Inside Shanghai Disneyland After Covid-19 Case.”)