The state of California’s new framework for reopening businesses following the summer surge of COVID-19 doesn’t include any new guidance for theme parks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called the plan “more stubborn” than the rapid reopening in the spring that eventually caused another statewide shutdown. While initially hailed as a success story in the early months of the pandemic, California now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country at more than 680,000.
The four-tier system relies on counties’ COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people are reported each day and test positivity rates. While the rules mention restrictions on restaurants and in-person classes at schools, they do not specify what metrics would allow theme parks to reopen.
“It is a very dynamic conversation, and so we didn’t include it in the update today,” Newsom said. “That is a separate conversation. It’s an easier one to have, frankly, with some of the larger ones. We’re trying to accommodate for some of the other amusement activities in the state, and so you’ll be getting that as soon as we work through that.”
Nearly all the California counties that include theme parks are currently in the state’s most restrictive tier, including Orange County, home to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. The one exception is San Diego County — home to SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California — whose COVID-19 numbers have improved to the point to allow limited indoor operations at zoos, museums, and aquariums, along with indoor dining at restaurants capped at 25 percent capacity.
Several parks around California have found creative ways to partially reopen, such as Knott’s food festivals and SeaWorld San Diego’s Zoo Days event, which will feature food booths as well as animal exhibits. Rides and attractions, however, have to remain closed.
At a roundtable in Orlando on Wednesday, Disney, Universal and SeaWorld executives all said their California parks are ready to reopen once they’re given the OK from state government.
“Disneyland has been ready to roll since July,” Disney World’s chief operating officer Jim MacPhee said, according to the Orange County Register.
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