Sunday, May 16, 2021

BREAKING: State of California issues full updated theme park opening guidance

  • Performers must stay at least six feet from guests if unmasked
  • Guest parties max out at three households
  • All queuing outdoor only
  • All indoor rides limited to 15 minutes

IMAGE: Mask free zone at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s Marine World Experience, July 2020. New theme park guidance requires masks be worn at all times except when eating or drinking. Photo by Joe Kleiman

March 26, 2021 — Today, the State of California issued full updated reopening guidance for theme parks and amusement parks, supplanting guidance issued on October 20, 2020. The new guidance was issued six days before its scheduled implementation on April 1 and twenty-one days after it was announced on March 5.

In addition to already announced tier-specific operating restrictions, outlined on page 6 this chart, a number of stipulations will be in effect across all tiers, many of them new. They are:

  • Employers who have employees working at Amusement Parks and Theme Parks must develop a worker COVID-19 testing program for weekly optional testing of all workers who may encounter other workers, support staff, or performers. PCR or antigen are permissible diagnosis tests for workers/performers where the interval of between tests is no greater than seven days. For workers returning to work where the interval between a prior test has been greater than seven days after receiving a prior test, only a PCR test is permissible.
    • Workers participating in routine weekly testing are NOT counted toward any occupancy capacity limit. All workers not participating in a routine weekly testing program shall count toward any occupancy limit.
  • Use of face coverings is mandatory throughout the park in all settings indoor and outdoor, unless actively eating and/or drinking. Guests who do not comply should be removed from the facility immediately.
  • Performers and workers in the performance sector who cannot feasibly perform or work with a face covering are not required to wear a face covering during the time period in which such tasks are actually being performed on the condition that
    • the unmasked performer or worker is at least six feet away from all other persons, or (2) all unmasked performers or workers and any workers who come into contact with those people are routinely tested at least twice weekly for COVID-19 (PCR or antigen are permissible diagnosis tests for routine testing of performers or workers).
  • In-state visitors only. Information will be prominently placed on all communications, including the Reservation and Ticketing systems, to ensure guests are aware of Reservation and Ticketing Requirements. At the time a guest makes a park reservation and purchases park tickets, the park operators must obtain an attestation that when visiting the park, the guest’s party size will not contain more than 3 households and the guest, and all members of the guest’s party will be in- state visitors.
  • Indoor rides must be limited to no more than 15 minutes.
  • All queuing must be performed in outdoor settings only and guests from different households or other parties must be at least six feet apart during queuing.
  • Board household members in the same vehicle when possible. Passengers from different households must be at least six feet apart.
  • Adjust seat-loading patterns, as needed, to comply with physical distancing requirements. Examples would include seating every other ride vehicle or vehicle row, further limiting capacity on a ride to allow for space between household groups, etc. NOTE: When adjusting seat-loading patterns, the ride operator must ensure the patron load distribution complies with the manufacturer’s load/balance criteria.
  • Discontinue use of a ride or attraction where use of face coverings presents a safety issue or high incidence of loss of face covering during operation.
  • Face coverings must be made available to visitors who lose their face coverings during a ride or attraction.
  • Occupancy limits are based on the fire department occupant limit. If no fire department occupant limit is available for the total facility, the operating design capacity will be used as the basis for determining the reduced capacity.
  • Park visitors are permitted to eat and drink only in designated dining areas. Concession stands must be accompanied by additional designated and shaded eating areas. Food and/or drink consumption is NOT permitted while queuing or using rides and attractions, including cinematic attractions.

As mentioned in our prior report, the ability of theme parks to open in the Red and Orange tiers sets into action a provision in Assembly Bill 420, which calls for a half million dollar competitive grant for the state’s theme parks and amusement parks to purchase personal protective gear for their employees.

Announced to open on April 1 are Six Flags Discovery Mountain, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and LEGOLAND California. The remainder of the state’s theme parks and amusement parks are expected to open by the end of April.

This article will be updated soon with commentary from the industry.

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