As concerns that the fast-sweeping delta variant could spread easily, employers, schools and governments are scrambling to implement vaccine mandates and regular testing.
"Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees," said a statement from Disney.
One of the region's largest employers, Disney stated all U.S. salaried and non-union hourly employees working at their sites must be fully vaccinated. Those who aren't will have 60 days to comply. It is also discussing vaccine mandates with unions representing workers.
The new workplace requirements come as studies emerge that show a growing number of breakthrough delta variant cases among the inoculated.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city will follow California and New York's requirements that all government employees either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. The federal government soon followed.
And, while Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has not mandated vaccinations, the district will be testing employees and students regularly.
The new requirements will mean a massive logistical challenge for these organizations: regular testing of potentially hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated individuals, requiring time, money and infrastructure. It could also force employers to build up a safe and secure database of the vaccinated, a feat that has not been attempted in recent memory. Usually, health records are held by medical institutions and schools.
Experts say that vaccine mandates are likely to be effective in protecting individuals but tricky to carry out.
"If they see their friends and family get vaccinated, then that normalizes it for them," said USC public health expert Rita Burke. "They see their circle is safe, so they might be willing to get the vaccine, too."
The city of Los Angeles has yet to outline how they will determine whether their 50,000 plus employees are vaccinated and who will need testing.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration will ask federal workers to declare their vaccination status, rather than rely on testing or proof of vaccination. California will ask employees for a vaccination card or other digital proof of inoculation.
One problem for employers and governments is verifying records. Employees could easily falsify vaccine information since there's no centralized means of tracking records. The county of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions attempted to make it easier to verify records by contracting with companies such as Healthvana that offer digital verification.
But some have lashed out online following the announcements, criticizing the move as a violation of their privacy. Governors in five states, including Texas and Florida, signed legislation prohibiting vaccine mandates.
The mandates are perfectly legal, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which regulates federal workforce discrimination laws. It has stated that employers can require employees who physically go to work to get vaccinated.
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Move over, "Netflix and chill," and make way for "Netflix and shop."
Taking a page from Disney, the video streamer debuted an online store for selling merchandise tied to its shows and brand on Thursday. Collectibles and streetwear from anime series "Yasuke" and "Eden" are now available, soon to be followed by apparel and decorative items from the French hit, "Lupin," designed in collaboration with the Louvre Museum.
Netflix's category expansion upon its intellectual property is a page from the playbooks of Disney and NBCUniversal, both of whom have long sold merchandise to squeeze revenue from the characters, stories and brands they bring to life on screen.
The online shop is Netflix's first direct foray into commerce. It comes on the heels of the company's forecast that 2021 will be the first year it can pay for its own projects without needing to raise external financing. First available in the U.S., the store will roll out to other countries in the coming months, according to a company statement.
Products are all limited-edition, with a current price range of $30 to $135. Upcoming lines will include merchandise tied to "Stranger Things" and "The Witcher."
The site sports a distinctive Netflix style and highlights the company's merchandise partnerships with three of what it calls "up-and-coming designers": Jordan Bentley, Nathalie Nguyen, and Kristopher Kites.
"We love it when great stories transcend screens and become part of people's lives," Netflix VP of Consumer Products Josh Simon wrote in a blog post. "We're always looking at how we can extend the world of our stories for fans, from apparel and toys to immersive events and games. And it's why today we're launching Netflix.shop as an exciting new destination combining curated products and rich storytelling in a uniquely Netflix shopping experience."
Simon left a similar role at Nike for Netflix in early 2020.
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek doesn't think consumers want to wait 45 days for movies to arrive on their streaming services.
Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan on Monday, Chapek didn't say whether that would drive moviegoers to the theaters or drive companies like his to put films on their services faster, but one thing is clear: the pandemic upended one of Hollywood's oldest paradigms.
Asked whether shortening a film's theatrical-only exhibition period to 45 days might induce more consumers to wait to watch on streaming platforms, Chapek said, "I don't think people have that much patience, to be honest with you."
His own company reorganized during the pandemic, thrusting resources at streaming, as the world shifted.
The theatrical window has been one of traditional Hollywood's biggest losers coming out of the pandemic. Already considered by some insiders as a relic of a pre-streaming era Tinseltown, when the coronavirus shuttered theaters, streaming services began pushing the window tighter as they released new films directly to consumers on their platforms.
At its last earnings call Disney announced that two films, "Shang-Chi" and "Free Guy," would receive a 45-day window. Marvel blockbuster "Black Widow", however, will be released simultaneously on Disney Plus and in theaters in July.
Chapek emphasized Monday that Disney's priority has been to give fans the flexibility to watch where they want.
"I think the consumers have realized that they've got the power," he said. "We're a consumer-friendly company, and we'll follow their lead."
Chapek had little to say about the competitive threat posed by a newly merged WarnerMedia-Discovery streaming platform. He highlighted Disney Plus' acquisition of 100 million subscribers in just 16 months as a sign that his company is on the right path.
"This frankly, for us, doesn't really change much at all," he said.
To explain Disney Plus' surprisingly strong growth that led the company to revise its subscriber projections to up to 260 million by 2024, Chapek reemphasized Disney Plus' unexpectedly high penetration among non-family households. He also pointed to upcoming changes as signals for ongoing growth.
Disney's parks, which Chapek called his "secret weapon," will help drive more users to its streaming platforms, he said.
"For the very first time, we've got the opportunity to take our original direct-to-consumer business, which is our parks business, and use it for our newest direct-to-consumer business," Chapek said, referring to streaming.
"We've got a tremendous amount of information on our consumers from our parks business," he added, indicating that this trove of data could help drive further Disney Plus subscriptions.
Chapek further noted that only in 2022 will Disney Plus' content pipeline be running full steam. He also hinted that more sports may be coming to Disney's streaming platforms.
"When the time is right to really stomp on the gas and go even stronger into our direct-to-consumer platforms for sports, we'll do that," he said.
With more content may come a heftier price tag, however. Having noted that the recent price increase of Disney Plus to $7.99 per month didn't result in any material subscriber losses, Chapek said more hikes could be forthcoming.
"We'll reserve the right to increase our price-value relationship through further pricing actions as we add more content and get to that point where we're adding a new piece of content, essentially, every week," he said.
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