New legislation introduced in California State Assembly would adopt the theme park industry’s preferred standards for when places like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm can reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last fall, California Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines that would only allow large theme parks to reopen when their home counties hit the lowest tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan. Parks want a reopening in the “Orange” or “moderate” tier — though current COVID-19 conditions signal that even reaching that level will take months.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblymembers Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and Suzette Martinez-Valladares (R-Santa Clarita), would all theme parks, regardless of size, to open in that lower tier.
“As a veteran of the theme park industry, I intimately understand their operations, their procedures and their ability to move people and keep them safe,” Martinez-Valladares said in a statement. “The industry, and Six Flags Magic Mountain in my district, has been closed for nearly a year, while parks in other states have been open to the public and serving them safely.”
Since the bill would match the industry’s own demands for reopening, it has the support of the California Attractions and Parks Association.
“Nearly a year after parks closed in response to the pandemic, tens of thousands of employees remain out of work, while local businesses, communities surrounding theme parks, and local governments face ongoing negative consequences,” CAPA executive director Erin Guerrero said in a press release. “COVID transmission rates are improving and the vaccination distribution is underway, yet California’s major theme parks have no timeline and no realistic pathway toward reopening if left in the ‘Yellow- Minimal – Tier 4’ of state guidance.”
CAPA’s campaign to allow California parks to reopen fell silent amid a new surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state that led to new stay-at-home orders. With the orders now lifted, the organization has begun openly advocating for a quicker path to reopening once again.
All of California’s large parks have remained closed since last March. Only one — California’s Great America in Santa Clara — has announced a reopening date of May 22, though making that date would only be possible if Santa Clara County meets the state’s reopening guidelines.
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