This just in from our friends at the Orlando Sentinel-
SeaWorld Entertainment is indefinitely furloughing more than 90% of its employees on April 1, the latest economic hit to Central Florida and around the country from the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of employees won’t get paid after March 31, the company reported in an SEC filing Friday. SeaWorld encouraged them to apply for government unemployment benefits.
SeaWorld Entertainment, which is based in Orlando, runs 12 theme parks across the country. At the end of 2019, the company had nearly 11,000 part-time employees and 4,300 full-time workers, according to an SEC filing last month.
This was the first time SeaWorld has furloughed employees, although it’s undergone regular rounds of layoffs for years.
A letter sent to employees Friday blamed government orders meant to slow down the coronavirus.
“Government orders prohibiting large gatherings, restricting travel, and mandating business closures have caused many companies to scale back or cease operations. They have caused significant disruption to our communities and are anticipated to do so for the foreseeable future,” the letter said.
SeaWorld did not respond to questions Friday to provide more details.
In Orange County, Mayor Jerry Demings has ordered a stay-at-home order through 11 p.m. April 9 to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic so hospitals and the medical community aren’t overwhelmed like in Seattle and New York City. Florida now has 2,900 cases, including 156 in Orange County, where three people have died from the virus.
It’s the latest blow for SeaWorld employees, especially for the part-timers who haven’t been getting paid since the parks closed down.
Employees were told to turn in their computer laptops but to keep their badges and uniforms for when the parks eventually reopened.
“The furlough period is uncertain at this time due to the temporary park closures and will be reassessed as business conditions dictate,” the SEC filing said. “The Company looks forward to welcoming back its ambassadors and guests when it is safe to open again.”
Originally from the Orlando Sentinel / Gabrielle Russon