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Full, updated opening guidelines released for California theme parks

by Brittani Tuttle

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released the full, updated opening guidelines for California theme parks and amusement parks in the wake of COVID-19, effective April 1.

california theme parks
Photo via Disneyland Resort

According to the document, these guidelines are to support “a safe, clean environment for workers and customers.”

Across all tiers of COVID-19 spread, the following rules apply:

  • “Employers who have employees working at amusement parks and theme parks must develop a worker COVID-19 testing program for weekly optional testing of all workers who may encounter other workers, support staff, or performers.”
  • Mandatory use of face coverings throughout the park in both indoor and outdoor areas, unless actively eating or drinking. Those who do not follow this rule “should be removed from the facility immediately,” though there are some exceptions.
  • Performers and employees working in Entertainment who cannot perform or work with a face covering are not required to wear one during the time period in which tasks are actually being performed on two conditions:
    • The unmasked performer or worker is at least six feet away from other people.
    • All unmasked performers or workers and any other employees who come in contact with them are regularly tested (at least twice a week) for COVID-19.
  • Only in-state visitors are allowed to visit California’s theme parks. When a guest makes a park reservation and purchases tickets, the park operators must confirm that the guest’s party size will not contain more than three (3) households and all members of the party are in-state visitors.
  • Indoor rides must be limited to no longer than 15 minutes.
  • All queueing must be outdoors and guests from different parties must be at least six feet apart when in line.
  • Members of the same household/party should be boarded on attractions in the same vehicle when possible. Those from different households must be at least six feet apart.
  • Loading on attractions must be adjusted as needed to comply with physical distancing requirements.
  • “Discontinue use of a ride or attraction where use of face coverings presents a safety issue or high incidence of loss of face covering during operation.”
  • Face coverings must be available for guests who lose their own during a ride.
  • Park guests are allowed to eat and drink in designated dining areas only. Concession stands “must be accompanied by additional designated and shaded eating areas.” Eating and drinking is not allowed while in line for rides, including cinematic attractions.

There are also additional guidelines across the four tiers of COVID-19 spread, save for Purple (Tier 1), which is not allowed to reopen theme parks or amusement parks.

Red — Substantial — Tier 2

  • Theme parks must limit visitors to a maximum 15% capacity.
  • Small groups only are allowed, limited to a maximum of 10 people or three (3) household groups with no intergroup mixing.
  • Indoor capacity must be limited to a maximum of 15%.
  • No indoor dining is permitted.
  • Walk-up ticket sales are allowed, but parks must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the purchaser for necessary contact tracing.

Orange — Moderate —Tier 3

  • Theme parks must limit visitors to a maximum 25% capacity
  • Indoor capacity must be limited to a maximum of 25%.
  • Indoor dining is permitted, but limited to a maximum of 25% capacity.
  • Walk-up ticket sales are allowed, but parks must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the purchaser for necessary contact tracing.

Yellow — Minimal — Tier 4

  • Theme parks must limit visitors to a maximum 35% capacity.
  • Indoor capacity must be limited to a maximum of 25%.
  • Indoor dining is permitted, but limited to a maximum of 50% capacity.
  • Walk-up ticket sales are allowed, but parks must collect complete name and contact information (including a phone number) of the purchaser for necessary contact tracing.

Beyond the overview of these rules, the 13-page document goes into deeper detail on a variety of guidelines for operating California theme parks, including the use of face coverings, workplace COVID-19 prevention, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and more. There are also recommendations regarding admission, entry and security; rides and attractions; and interactive exhibits and attractions for California theme parks to consider.

As far as opening dates go, California theme parks set to open on April 1 are Legoland California Resort (starting with Park Preview Days before fully opening on April 15), Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Disneyland Resort has set its reopening for April 30, and Knott’s Berry Farm plans to welcome guests back sometime in May.

You can read the entire document for yourself here.

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