ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- As COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country, Disney CEO Bob Chapek says the company's parks are looking to increase capacity and lift mask mandates soon.
Chapek said on the company's second-quarter earnings call Thursday that the theme parks had already started increasing their capacity, and he thinks "you're going to see an immediate increase in the number of folks that we're able to admit into our parks." Chapek hinted its parks' mask mandates could be lifted by the summer, saying not having to wear masks would be a "bigger catalyst for growth in attendance" and "make for an even more pleasant experience."
But what does that mean for Disneyland in Orange County, which remains in the orange tier in the state's economic reopening plan? Currently, Disneyland -- which reopened just two weeks ago -- is required under state guidelines to limit visitors to 25% capacity. Orange County is eyeing a move to the least-restrictive yellow tier next week, which would increase capacity to 35% for larger theme parks like Disneyland.
As for the mask mandate at the amusement park, it remains unclear when and whether California would adopt new health guidelines after the federal government said fully vaccinated people can quit wearing face coverings in most cases.
"The guidance from the CDC allowing fully vaccinated individuals to remove masks and the removal of physical distancing requirements is extremely positive news and as soon as is practical we will implement updated guidelines across our businesses," a Disney spokesperson told Eyewitness News.
Counties across California are waiting for word from the state on potential new guidance following Thursday's announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, such as buses, planes, hospitals and prisons, and says residents should follow local rules.
Local directives will come from counties, as well as the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA.
O.C. officials are anticipating the state will issue new guidance on the mask mandate later this month, county CEO Frank Kim said.
The county's case rate has also fallen to 1.7 per 100,000 as of Thursday, continuing a trend that has the county meeting the criteria to graduate to the yellow tier. If the trend continues through Sunday, then the county expects to move up from the orange to the yellow tier by May 19.
The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of Disneyland and ABC7.
The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.