California issues new reopening guidelines for theme parks, stadiums

Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

INDIVIDUALS itching to visit a theme park in California will still have to wait as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

State health officials on Tuesday, October 20 issued new reopening criteria for theme parks to meet. Under the guidelines, Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other destinations can’t welcome visitors until the county they are in reaches the highest level of the four tier system as part of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

In a virtual press briefing, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly unveiled two sets of guidelines based on the size of the theme park.

Smaller theme parks may resume operations in Tier 3 (moderate/orange) by following measures, such as limited capacity of 25% or 500, whichever is fewer, opening only outdoor attractions, and ticket sales limited to visitors in the same county. Under this tier, new cases must be around 1 to 4 a day per 100,000 residents.

All other theme parks are allowed to reopen in Tier 4 (yellow/minimal), which allows for 25% limited capacity. The parks must also implement a reservation system and screen guests for symptoms in advance, and require face coverings throughout the park unless eating or drinking. The case rate in this tier must be less than one daily new cases per 100,000 residents.

Los Angeles County, which is home to Universal Studios, is in the most restrictive purple tier. Meanwhile, Orange County — which has theme parks such as Disneyland, California Adventure and Knott’s Berry Farm — is in the red, the second most restrictive tier.

“We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world,” said Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort in a statement on Tuesday. “Nevertheless, the state of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knowns are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities.”

Meanwhile, outdoor stadiums can host 20% of their capacity for sporting events if the county is in the orange tier. The stadiums must restrict ticket sales to customers within a 120-mile radius and there will be assigned seats, where eating and drinking is only allowed. Day of or will-call ticket sales are not permitted.

Also on Tuesday, Ghaly announced that all personal care services, such as tattooing, hair removal and massages, may resume indoor operations with modifications under Tier 1 (widespread/purple).

As of Monday, the California Department of Public Health announced 870,791 confirmed cases and 16,970 fatalities. The seven-day positivity rate is 2.4% and the 14-day positivity rate is 2.5%.

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