California theme parks could reopen on April 1, according to updated state health guidelines, after a year of coronavirus closure, costing the parks billions and forcing them to cut tens of thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new guidelines for the California theme park and the opening date are part of the “refresh” of Governor Gavin Newsum’s four-step plan for a safer economy.
Theme parks in California have been closed since March 2020 according to COVID-19 guidelines for restoring health and safety issued by the state. Many parks are partially open for special events and food festivals without walks.
From April 1, California theme parks may reopen with 15% capacity in the red / significant layer 2, 25% capacity in the orange / moderate layer 3 and 35% capacity in the most restrictive yellow / minimum layer 4.
Attendance at the theme park will be limited to California residents. The updated guidelines will be developed over the next few weeks in partnership with theme parks.
“We appreciate the administration’s willingness to work with the country’s theme parks on the finer details of the plan so that the parks can open responsibly soon, bringing people back to work safely and revitalizing local economies,” said the executive director of the Association of Attractions and parks in California Erin Guerrero. declaration.
Most California parks with large theme parks still remain in the most restrictive purple / widespread level 1 risk level – including Orange (Disneyland and Knot), Los Angeles County (Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain), San Diego (SeaWorld and Legoland)) and Solano (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom).
The counties of Orange and Los Angeles are expected to move to the red / significant stage 2 next week – meaning Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s, Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain may reopen on April 1.
Santa Clara County – home of Great America in California – is currently at a red / significant risk level of level 2. Santa Clara Amusement Park has already set an opening date of May 22.
According to the revised theme parks guidelines, indoor and amusement walks must maintain 15% capacity in the red layer and 25% capacity in the orange and yellow layers, while outdoor walks and attractions can accommodate more competitors, provided that the mandates for social distancing.
The move is a sharp look at the “slow, stubborn and rigorous” approach to the resumption of theme parks in California taken by the Newsom administration last fall.
In October, California officials issued separate reopening guidelines for smaller and larger theme parks in the state – with small parks allowed to reopen in the orange / moderate row 3 while large parks can return. in yellow / minimum level 4. The capacity to visit was set at 25% in both levels.
The California Association of Attractions and Parks said the initial guidelines, issued in October, would keep the state’s major theme parks “closed indefinitely.”
Blueprint Refresh no longer distinguishes between large and small theme parks in California.
The Newsom administration has been under pressure from the theme park industry to review the resumption guidelines for months.
The turnaround from the Newsom administration comes just days before the one-year anniversary of the closure of the California theme park coronavirus in mid-March 2020. It comes just weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that outdoor theme parks could reopen on April 9 – increasing the likelihood of California theme parks returning to the United States last. A bipartisan bill proposed by members of the California assembly in February will speed up the reopening of theme parks and repeal state guidelines.
Disneyland President Ken Potrock said the announcement paves the way for the opening of theme parks in California.
“We are encouraged that the theme parks already have a way to open this spring, return thousands of people to work and provide great assistance to neighboring businesses and our entire community,” Potrock said in a statement. “With Disney’s responsible safety protocols already in place around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”
The prolonged closure of Disneyland has had a “profound and devastating” impact on workers in Anaheim, according to city officials.
“This will mean so much to our working families and small businesses, which have suffered so much while our largest businesses have closed in the last year,” Anaheim Mayor Hari Sidhu said in a statement. “Disney has worked hard to be ready for a safe and responsible opening, and everyone should feel comfortable and confident returning to Anaheim.”
United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents Disneyland cast members, welcomed the move from the Newsom administration.
“Our Disney cast members are pleased with the good news today that Disney’s parks will be open in a month,” UFCW Local 324 President Andrea Zinder said in a statement. “They have been out of work for a year and are excited to return to work to provide Californians with a little more magic in their lives. Our priority will be to continue to work closely with the Governor and Disney to ensure that our members are protected from COVID-19 infections in the workplace when the parks reopen. “
The president of Universal Studios Hollywood, Karen Irwin, said the park was eager to return.
“We are ready to reopen, we are ready to bring our team members back to work, ready to help stimulate the local economy and ready to welcome guests,” Irwin said in a statement.
Six Flags Magic Mountain plans to announce an opening date soon.
“We are pleased with the governor’s announcement and look forward to welcoming our guests back to Six Flags Magic Mountain with a full range of our world-class mats in a safe, outdoor environment,” a statement from Magic Mountain said in a statement. “The official opening date will be published on our website and social channels in the near future.”
Staff writer Alicia Robinson contributed to this report.