Theme parks, casinos and cinemas shut down

Theme parks, casinos and cinemas shut down

Theme parks on the Gold Coast will close from today in order to comply with restrictions on non-essential indoor and mass gatherings.

Dreamworld and Whitewater World, owned and operated by listed entertainment group Ardent Leisure (ASX: ALG), will retain minimal staff during this period to ensure the ongoing care of animals and maintenance of rides and attractions.

The theme parks will cease operation until 31 May 2020, but this date may change as further information becomes known.

"The decision to close our parks is a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak," says Ardent Leisure chairman Dr Gary Weiss and theme parks CEO John Osborne.

"We are deeply aware that the decision to close our parks will create a great deal of uncertainty for our team members, their families and the broader community."

All Ardent Leisure board members will not take fees until further notice.

Village Roadshow (ASX: VRL), the operator of Gold Coast theme parks Warner Bros. Movie Word, Sea World, Wet'n'Wild, Paradise Country and Topgolf Gold Coast has also announced the closure of its parks this morning.

Sea World Resort, as an accommodation provider, will remain open at this stage and all cinemas operated by VRL will also close today.

Some staff will be retained to look after animals and conduct theme park maintenance, while others have been stood down.

Casino operators SkyCity (ASX: SKC) and Acquis Entertainment (ASX: AQS) have similarly announced closures.

SkyCity's Adelaide casino will be closed by 12.00pm (ACST) today, leaving 1,000 employees in a precarious position.

The closure requirements do not impact SkyCity's construction sites, meaning the company will continue to work on its Adelaide expansion project.

As a result SkyCity has withdrawn its FY20 earnings guidance.

Acquis Entertainment will also close its Canberra-based casino from 12pm today and will not be reopened until advised it is safe to do so by the Government.

Cinema operator EVENT Hospitality & Entertainment (ASX: EVT) has announced its cinemas in Australia and New Zealand will close with effect from today until the end of May 2020.

EVENT will stand down the majority of cinema employees during this time, and the company will allow employees to draw down on annual leave and long service leave. Negative annual leave balances up to five days will be offered.

Ginger processor Buderim Group (ASX: BUG) has announced that it will close The Ginger Factory Tourism Park from today until further notice.

Updated at 8:46am AEDT on 23 March 2020.

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