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California gives theme parks including Disneyland green light to reopen in April

Disneyland Resort will be allowed to open on April 1 after being closed for almost a year after California health officials set new rules amid a decline in the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement also includes Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

Other venues like Major League Baseball stadiums and outdoor entertainment hot spots will also be allowed to reopen on April Fool’s Day.  

‘We feel like now is the appropriate time to begin to reintroduce these activities in some fashion, and in a guarded way, in a slow and steady way,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly announced Friday.  

Disneyland Resort will be allowed to open on April 1 after being closed for almost a year after California health officials set new rules amid a decline in the coronavirus pandemic

People take a selfie while visiting Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California on July 9, 2020

People take a selfie while visiting Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California on July 9, 2020

A couple waits in line to enter Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California on July 9, 2020

A couple waits in line to enter Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California on July 9, 2020

Masks and other safety measures would still be required, and Disneyland will initially be open only to state residents

Masks and other safety measures would still be required, and Disneyland will initially be open only to state residents

The park will have time limits for its indoor rides, even though most are fairly short and already socially distanced. Pictured: Visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim in March 2020

The park will have time limits for its indoor rides, even though most are fairly short and already socially distanced. Pictured: Visitors take photos at Disneyland in Anaheim in March 2020

Friday’s announcement means theme parks in red-zoned counties could reopen at 15% of normal capacity on April 1 – but only if the counties where they operate are removed from the state’s highly restrictive ‘purple’ tier.

The less restrictive orange and yellow tiers would allow reopenings at 25% and 35% capacity, respectively. 

Masks and other safety measures would still be required, and the parks initially would be open only to state residents. 

The park will have time limits for its indoor rides, even though most are fairly short and already socially distanced, CNN reported.

Disneyland, located in Anaheim, lies in the heart of Orange County. Like neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego counties, it has remained purple for months.

Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, did not give a date for reopening but said in a statement that the decision meant ‘getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community.’ 

He added: ‘With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back get.’

The reopening can’t come too soon for Kenny King Jr., a resident of Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco Bay Area who became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago. He typically takes his family to the Southern California park five times a year, but the last visit was just over a year ago for his birthday.

King, 38, said he’s excited to return with his 8-year-old daughter, who had just started enjoying rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and to take his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he visited last year.

‘That´s something that we just made our family thing – Disney trips,’ King said. ‘We´ll sit there at the house sometimes and we´ll be like `man, I just miss Disneyland.’ ‘

At least 28,000 Disneyland workers have been furloughed or out of a job for nearly a year and Dodger Stadium and a Disneyland parking lot are currently being used as mass-vaccination sites.

Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, did not give a date for reopening

Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, did not give a date for reopening

Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents Disney workers, said employees are ‘excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a bit more magic in their lives.’ 

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida had reopened in July 2020 with capacity limits, though cast members have reported getting spit on and pushed while enforcing COVID-19 restrictions.

In February, Hong Kong Disneyland reopened for the third time since the start of the pandemic. Disneyland Paris was originally set to reopen on February 13, but has pushed it back to April 2.

Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are open with visitors capped at 5,000 per day at each park, CNN reported. 

Outdoor stadiums, ball parks and performance arenas would also be allowed to welcome back live audiences starting April 1, though at a fraction of maximum seating and subject to the same tiered system of constraints.

Opening day turnouts for Major League Baseball games would be muted affairs in Southern California, with no more than 100 spectators allowed in venues located in purple-zoned counties.

That would include the stadiums of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres and the Anaheim Angels. 

That number will increase up to 67% capacity in the yellow tier.

Teams and event organizers can only sell tickets regionally in the purple tier. In the other tiers, teams and organizers can sell tickets to anyone living in California.

Cutouts are seated at Oakland Coliseum as Chicago White Sox's Dallas Keuchel, center, pitches to Oakland Athletics' Tommy La Stella

Cutouts are seated at Oakland Coliseum as Chicago White Sox’s Dallas Keuchel, center, pitches to Oakland Athletics’ Tommy La Stella

A view of empty seats is seen in Dodgers Stadium as the Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants in an empty stadium on the opening day last July

A view of empty seats is seen in Dodgers Stadium as the Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Francisco Giants in an empty stadium on the opening day last July

No concessions will be allowed in the purple tier, while in others, concession sales will only be available at seats. 

San Francisco and Oakland, home of the Giants and the Athletics, respectively, are currently designated red, which would limit seating to 20% capacity.

The Padres, Angels and Oakland A’s all announced they will have fans in the stands for opening day April 1.

The Dodgers and Giants both start their seasons on the road and said they would announce their plans later.

Richard Haick of San Pablo, California, already bought ticket vouchers for the Oakland A´s return and hopes to take his 10-year-old son to a game soon. His son plays Little League baseball and is very excited to attend games.

‘It´s nice to have, even in a reduced capacity, some sense of normal,’ said Haick, a 45-year-old photographer.

The state is pinning its hopes of a full reopening on inoculating enough of its 40 million residents to halt widespread COVID-19 infections.

More than 10 million doses had been given only three months since the first shot was given, the Department of Public Health said.

Just over 3 million people have been fully vaccinated, or about 10% of the population 16 and older.

There are hopeful signs. This week, the seven-day average rate of positive results from tests dropped this week to 2.2%, a record low.


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