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No fooling! California theme parks set to open at limited capacity April 1

By Vanessa Armstrong

After being closed for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, California theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, will be allowed to open on Apr. 1.

The Orange County Register broke the news today, stating that the parks will be allowed to open starting next month, so long as the counties they reside in have a level of COVID-19 infections that qualify them for the red/substantial tier 2 risk status or lower.

All the relevant counties are currently in more restrictive purple/widespread tier 1 level but are expected to fall to the lower red tier as early as next week. Assuming those numbers hold, the parks can reopen, albeit indoor rides and attractions must run at 15% capacity in the red tier and 25% capacity in the lower orange and yellow tiers. Outdoor attractions can run at a higher capacity, though the parks will only be open to California residents.

These guidelines, which California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling a “Blueprint Refresh,” are less stringent than the original guidelines issued in October, which didn’t allow larger theme parks to open until the state hit the orange or yellow status level. Governor Newsom received a lot of pressure from the theme park industry about those stricter rules, and today’s announcement suggests that the two parties have come to an agreement.

“We appreciate the administration’s willingness to work with the state’s theme parks on the finer details of the plan so parks can responsibly reopen soon, putting people safely back to work and reinvigorating local economies,” California Attractions and Parks Association executive director Erin Guerrero said in a statement to The Orange County Register.

“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,” Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock said to Variety. “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.”