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Disney World sets reopening date

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Disney World will reopen its gates, ending a multi-month closure of the park.

What We Know:

  • The Disney theme park plans to begin a phased reopening on July 11 for its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks and July 15 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, the company said on Wednesday.
  • Walt Disney World as well as Disney’s Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California, closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Disney is implementing several measures to reopen safely and prevent the spread of the coronavirus at its parks.
  • The plan was approved Wednesday morning by the Orange County government but it still needs approval from Orange County’s mayor and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
  • All of Disney’s 12 parks in North America, Asia, and Europe closed because of the outbreak at different points this year. Shanghai Disneyland, the company’s largest international park, reopened its gates on May 11 after being closed since January 24.
  • Reopening Disney World is significant culturally and business-wise for the company. Disney generated more than $26 billion in sales at its Parks, Experiences, and Products unit in fiscal 2019, representing 37% of the company’s overall revenue.
  • The company revealed in its latest earnings report that its Parks and Experiences unit was hit particularly hard by the outbreak last quarter. The operating profit fell 58% compared with last year, shedding a billion dollars in profit just a few weeks into the global shutdown.
  • “The theme parks define Disney for millions of its fans around the world,” Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com, told CNN. “Returning its parks to operation signals that Disney is coming back to full speed as a company again.”
  • The grand reopening of the park is a big deal for Disney and the entire global tourism industry. It sends a message to the industry “that a safe reopening is possible,” according to Niles.
  • “Disney is the market leader in not just the theme park business, but in tourism worldwide,” Niles said. “It tells the industry that tourists likely will be back traveling again soon because no one draws tourists like Disney can.”
  • Reopening its premiere park won’t be easy, however. Getting Disney World back to business presents risks, both financially and in terms of public health, according to Trip Miller, a Disney shareholder and managing partner at Gullane Capital Partners.
  • “The risk is that coronavirus cases pop up again after opening. What do you do then?” Miller said. “Additionally, managing cast members health and keeping adequate staffing is a big challenge. If a Disney cast member contracts the virus, do you shut down the entire park? An area they were in? Do you refund tickets? You just don’t want the happiest place on earth to be seen as a dangerous place.”

The opening of Disney World is also a big test for Disney’s new CEO Bob Chapek, who before taking over for Bob Iger in February, was the former head of Disney’s parks and resorts division.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Business

T-Mobile Data Breach Included Personal Information of Almost 50 Million Customers

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Fortunately, no phone numbers, account numbers, PINs, passwords, or financial information of the approximately 50 million customers’ records were compromised.

What We Know:

  • T-Mobile reported on Wednesday that the names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license information, and other identification data of over 40 million potential and current customers were exposed in a data breach. In addition, 7.8 million postpaid users were also affected. The company also confirmed that hackers obtained approximately 850,000 active T-Mobile prepaid customer names, phone numbers, and account PINs.
  • Despite T-Mobile users being affected by the breach, Metro by T-Mobile, Sprint prepaid, and Boost Mobile customers stayed protected. The phone tycoons declared no users from those departments had their names or PINs exposed.
  • Those who caused the breach accessed additional information from inactive prepaid accounts via prepaid billing files. Despite this, T-Mobile declared no customer financial information, credit card information, payment information, or Social Security numbers were in the inactive file.
  • In response, T-Mobile proactively reset the PINs on active prepaid accounts. Additionally, the company said it would immediately offer two years of free identity protection services. T-Mobile further recommended users change their PIN while they investigate the situation.

The announcement came two days after the corporation said they were reviewing a leak of data; officials stated someone went on an online forum and offered to sell users’ personal information.

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Judge Rules in Favor of Norwegian Cruise Line, Allows for Proof of Vaccination in Florida

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Judge Kathleen Williams ruled it unconstitutional for businesses to ban a customer requirement of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

What We Know:

  • The U.S. District judge also granted Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the “vaccine passport ban.” In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 2006 into action, which limited the government’s ability to impose mask requirements and other social distancing measures. Senate Bill 2006 also restricts businesses from asking customers for proof of vaccination.
  • Last month, NCL filed a case against the State of Florida. The company initially asserted that the ban jeopardized the health and safety of passengers and crew members. Norwegian Cruise Line company additionally mentioned one could consider the ban and infringement on the First Amendment free speech guarantee. Officials took it a step further on Aug. 6 by asking Williams to block the state law.
  • Williams said the “First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment,” does not allow states to create laws that abridge freedom of speech. In addition, she declared a state could not restrict expression because of its message, ideas, content, or subject matter.
  • Judge Williams even stated that Florida did not provide “a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate” for prohibiting citizens from showing vaccination proof. Furthermore, she affirmed that NCL demonstrated that public health might be affected if it suspends a vaccination requirement.
  • In response to the Aug. 8 ruling, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio, wrote in a statement that the company’s lengths to keep the vaccine requirement in place proves its dedication to safe sailings. He also reported that NCL believes that “the safest and most prudent way” to resume operations is with 100% fully vaccinates guests and workers, as the ruling declared.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem will depart from the Port of Miami on Aug. 15. It will be  NCL’s first ship to set sail from Florida since the cruise industry shut down in March 2020.

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Mercedes-Benz Says it will Go All-Electric in 2030, but with a Major Caveat

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Mercedes-Benz plans on selling all-electric cars by 2030, joining rival companies General Motors, Stellantis, and Renault.

What We Know:

  • Daimler, the makers of Mercedes-Benz, stated they would invest over $47 billion between 2022-2030 to create battery-electric cars…having only all-electric cars by 2030. They will build about eight battery plants and have the electric model of every car they make. There will be three battery plants in Europe, four in Asia, and one in the US.
  • The luxury car makers will produce eight electric vehicle models by 2022. They will be producing them on three continents in various locations. Chief Executive Ola Källenius said that the company’s “spending on traditional combustion-engine technology would be close to zero by 2025.” He truly sees the company being all-electric by the end of the decade and competitive with Tesla. Källenius believes that Mercedes-Benz’s initiative will allow them to get 600 miles to a charge, beating Tesla’s longest-running car by 50%.
  • As a part of the Paris Agreement, countries have made a pact to make changes to their carbon emission levels. The US and European Union both decided to target their international import ties. The EU declared that they would “effectively ban new cars with internal combustion engines in 2035,” while Britain and Norway both set expiration dates for any car that runs on fossil fuels.
  • The only caveat to Mercedes-Benz’s plan is that they will produce and sell their electric cars “where market conditions allow.” The automobile company understands that some countries may not have car charging capabilities by 2030, and thus they wouldn’t need an electric car. Because of this possibility, Mercedes-Benz will still make “combustion-engine vehicles” as long as demand is high and needed.

Daimler executives have yet to release the location for the US battery plant, but many suspect it will be near the company’s manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, AL. The company has yet to release any information regarding ending sales and production of their fossil fuel cars.

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