California mayors urge administration to reopen theme parks

 Wednesday, November 4, 2020 


Mayors of eight major cities from California including Los Angeles recently appealed to the state’s Governor Gavin Newsom to ease COVID-19 restrictions that have completely disrupted the operations of theme parks such as Disneyland, warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue are currently under stake.

According to the letter the mayors stated that the guidelines put forth by the administration were released within the framework of prioritising public health and safety for guests and employees and agreed that it is the right focus. However, they also mentioned that economic and public health is not mutually exclusive goals. They stated that there are growing concerns that the state’s guidelines would push re-opening of large theme parks up to a year out, which would have significant negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of small businesses, and billions in operating revenue for the cities.

Apart from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the letter was also signed by the mayors of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located, as well as San Diego, home to SeaWorld, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Riverside and Santa Ana. Parks in those cities were forced to shut down mid-March during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to remain closed for several more weeks or even months, depending on the fluctuating coronavirus infection rates.

Last month it was established under strict protocols that large parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios will be allowed to reopen once coronavirus transmission in the county in which they operate reaches the least restrictive of the state’s four-tier system. Smaller parks will be allowed to reopen once its home county reaches the second least restrictive tier. The mayors in their letter urged Newsom to allow large theme parks to open in tier three with reduced capacity, rather than in tier four.

Theme park operators that have been forced to lay off thousands of workers and they have warned that the prolonged shutdowns will deeply affect their operations and local economies. Once allowed to reopen, larger theme parks would be allowed to operate at 25% capacity and visitors will have to make advance reservations and will also have to follow safety guidelines like mandatory usage of face coverings except when eating or drinking.

Orange County, home to Disneyland in Anaheim, is currently under ‘red,’ or second tier, while Universal Studios is in the ‘purple,’ tier which is also the state’s most restrictive tier. Ken Potrock, President, Disneyland Resort warned last month that the stringent reopening requirements would lead to the closure of small family-owned businesses and keep the world’s second-most visited theme park shuttered for the foreseeable future. He mentioned that with the help of science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at theme park properties around the world responsible reopening is possible.

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