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Disneyland Resort and the state of California have been involved in a war of words in recent weeks as the theme park has been asking for the opportunity to reopen, and the state has been in no hurry to let theme parks reopen. Today, the long-awaited guidelines for theme parks were released by the state, which is the important first step that parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood will need. However, those guidelines indicate it's still going to be a while before those parks are able to open.
In a webcast from CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the doctor revealed that there will be two different sets of guidelines, one for "small" theme parks, and one for all others. Small parks will be able to open when their respective counties are in the "orange" tier of COVID-19 exposure, which is the second from the bottom of the color-coded system. Large theme parks, which include places like Disneyland, will need to be in the "yellow" tier of exposure, which is the absolute lowest level. Currently, Orange County is in the "red tier" which is two tiers above where it will need to be to see Disneyland reopen.
The dividing line between small and large theme parks is a capacity of 15,000 people, anything above that number is considered large. As noted above, while those small parks will be open to open sooner, they will still be limited to the health and safety protocols that we're used to seeing. In addition, only people from within the county of the park can visit initially.
The good news is that Disneyland and other large parks now are clear on what will need to happen in order to reopen, the problem is that it's going to be difficult to forecast in advance when the county is going to be able to reopen. More than likely we'll have to wait for Orange County to see pandemic exposure drop far enough, and only then will the resort be able to even begin the process of reopening, like bringing back and training cast members, meaning it will still be a few weeks after the threshold is reached that the parks will be able to open.
Dr. Mark Ghaly also confirmed that after reopening, there will be regular health and safety checks and that a theme park that reopens can still close down, especially if the county transmission level increases again after reopening.
These guidelines fall in line with where it was reported they were going to be back when California's theme park lobbying organization asked the state to hold off on releasing them. Certainly, when Disneyland Resort has made it clear that it feels it can reopen now, guidelines that won't let it do so are frustrating. Disneyland Resort President Kevin Potrock released the following statement.
We have proven that we can responsibly reopen, with science-based health and safety protocols strictly enforced at our theme park properties around the world. Nevertheless, the State of California continues to ignore this fact, instead mandating arbitrary guidelines that it knows are unworkable and that hold us to a standard vastly different from other reopened businesses and state-operated facilities. Together with our labor unions we want to get people back to work, but these State guidelines will keep us shuttered for the foreseeable future, forcing thousands more people out of work, leading to the inevitable closure of small family-owned businesses, and irreparably devastating the Anaheim/Southern California community.
Now, it seems we wait.