California's outdoor amusement parks and sports stadiums will be permitted to reopen at reduced capacity starting April 1 in counties that meet certain coronavirus thresholds, state officials announced Friday.
Under the revised guidelines, theme parks located in counties in the red tier, the second strictest of the four stages of the state's reopening plan, will be allowed to operate at 15% capacity. The limit on capacity increases to 25% in the orange tier, and then to 35% in the yellow tier, where COVID transmission is thought to be “minimal.” Attendance, however, is limited to in-state visitors in all three tiers.
“With case rates and hospitalizations significantly lower, the arrival of three highly effective vaccines and targeted efforts aimed at vaccinating the most vulnerable communities, California can begin gradually and safely bringing back more activities, especially those that occur outdoors and where consistent masking is possible,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in a statement.
Previously, theme parks like Disneyland were not allowed to reopen until their home counties met the conditions to be in the yellow tier, which requires a case rate of less than 1 new case per day for every 100,000 people, according to the Los Angeles Times.
There are currently 16 counties, including Santa Clara, where the Great America theme park is located, operating in the red tier. Both Orange and Los Angeles counties, which are home to Disneyland and Magic Mountain, are in the purple tier, the most restrictive reopening stage.
The changes announced Friday also permit outdoor sports and live performances with fans to resume at reduced capacity in all four stages of reopening. In the purple tier, capacity will be limited to 100 people or fewer, and attendees must only be from the region. Venues will also need to require advanced reservations and won't be able to sell concessions.
In the red tier, capacity will be limited to 20% and concessions must be sold primarily to spectators in their seats. Capacity will rise to 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier. Attendance at all three stages will also be limited to California residents, officials said.
The new rules were quickly welcomed by Disneyland president Ken Potrock, who said park officials were looking forward to welcoming guests back after being closed for almost a year.
“We are encouraged that theme parks now have a path toward reopening this spring, getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community,” Potrock said in a statement. “With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can't wait to welcome our guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”