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California health officials release guidance for reopening theme parks, pro sporting events

California health officials release guidance for reopening theme parks, pro sporting events
Posted at 5:35 PM, Oct 20, 2020

New guidance was issued Tuesday for the reopening of California’s theme parks and professional sporting events.

The state’s guidance for theme parks:

-- Smaller them parks may resume operation in Tier 3 (Moderate/Orange)

  • Limited capacity of 25% or 500, whichever is fewer
  • May only open outdoor attractions
  • Ticket sales limited to visitors in the same county

-- All theme parks may resume operation in Tier 5 (Yellow/Minimal)

  • Limited capacity of 25%

-- All theme parks

  • Implement a reservation system and screen guests for symptoms in advance
  • Face coverings mandatory throughout the park unless eating or drinking

For professional sporting events at outdoor stadiums:
-- May resume in Tier 3 (Moderate/Orange) at 20% and in Tier 4 (Minimal/Yellow) at 35%

-- Ticket sales restricted to customers within a 120-mile radius

-- Advance ticket sales and assigned seats (No day of or will-call ticket sales)

-- Eating and drinking in assigned seats only

-- Face coverings are mandatory throughout the stadium unless eating or drinking

-- Tailgaiting prohibited however parking at the stadium is required

In a Tuesday virtual conference call, Dr. Mark Ghaly with the state's Public Health Department said the guidance for sporting events did not apply to collegiate athletics. Ghaly did not say when the state would offer guidelines for college sports at outdoor venues.

Because San Diego County is in the state's red tier under the COVID-19 reopening plan, major theme parks within the county cannot open under the state guidelines.

SeaWorld San Diego, however, is currently operating under the state's guidance for zoos.

Kurt Stocks, president of Legoland California Resort, issued this statement regarding the guidelines:

“The guidance issued today by the state is arbitrary and unacceptable to the industry. Not allowing theme parks to open until Tier 4 will destroy the industry in California and the economic impact on industries that rely heavily on theme parks will be catastrophic. The administration’s actions to this point have cost tens of thousands of jobs across the industry, and today’s announcement will all but confirm that thousands more will be lost. LEGOLAND® California Resort has developed a comprehensive and robust reopening plan, taking every precaution to meet and exceed guidelines given to other businesses and industries since voluntarily closing seven months ago. All seven other LEGOLAND Parks around the world has reopened safely with millions of guests and twenty thousand employees going through the gates without any COVID-19 incidents. The guidance from the Governor is grossly inconsistent with the guidelines given to other industries and lacks any scientific basis that can be supported by the CDPH.”

In Orange and Los Angeles counties, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood will have to wait longer to reopen because of their tier status. Orange County, as of Oct. 20, is in the state's red tier; Los Angeles County remains in the restrictive purple tier.

Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said of the guidance:

“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. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead of mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities. Together with our labor unions, we want to get people back to work, but these State guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community.”

This story was first reported by Jermaine Ong at KGTV in San Diego, California.