ANAHEIM, Calif. — People may be able to visit Disneyland and, perhaps, attend a Los Angeles Rams or Chargers game in California soon.
After months of being “stubborn” and ignoring calls to reopen theme parks and sporting events to limit the spread of the coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said his administration would finally release the much-anticipated health and safety guidelines for the reopening of the state’s sports and theme park industries.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday), [California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark] Ghaly will update you on some of those industries and guidelines, including sports and some of these theme parks,” Newsom said during his weekly press conference on the coronavirus.
Newsom added that the guidelines would vary depending on the industry, and the size of the theme parks, although he did not elaborate on the differences between a small and large theme park.
“We are going to break up the theme parks,” Newsom said. “It’s not just one or two brands. It’s many different parts that are part of the theme park industry. Dr. Ghaly will be updating you tomorrow (Tuesday) on those guidelines.”
Newsom also did not further discuss the guidelines for reopening of sporting events, only that the guidelines would be released Tuesday.
Newsom’s announcement comes after several months of pressure from theme park organizations, Disney, city officials, and small business owners to release guidelines to reopen theme parks across the state. Theme parks and sporting events have been closed since March.
Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Great America are some of their respective city and state’s largest employers and a major economic generator of tourism and business. Their closures have led to other businesses that rely on them to shutter or be on the brink of bankruptcy. Cities such as Garden Grove and Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, are facing massive tax shortfalls with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure sitting idle.
The extended closure has led to Disney laying off more than 28,000 employees at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Walt Disney World in Florida, and at Walt Disney Imagineering.
But with the state as of Monday having more than 876,200 coronavirus cases and nearly 17,000 deaths, Newsom had said the administration had to be stubborn and ignore the groundswell of calls from the public and city officials to release reopening guidelines for these industries.
Theme parks and sporting events attract tens of thousands of people a day, so it was important not to reopen these industries too soon and then see a spike in coronavirus cases across the state, he said. Newsom and Ghaly, his senior health adviser, have said the state would take a data- and science-based approach to prevent the spread of the virus.
In recent weeks, Newsom’s stance began to soften. Last week, Newsom sent a team to tour several theme parks and gauge the operator’s safety protocols.
“I hope one recognizes our stubbornness [that] a health-first, data-driven decision-making process is done with our eyes wide open on what’s happening now around the world, not just what’s happening across the United States,” Newsom said, adding that the state had to be extra vigilant to avoid any further increase in transmission.
It is unclear what these new reopening guidelines will entail. An early draft of the reopening theme park guidelines leaked earlier this month, limited theme park capacity to 25 percent, and prevented visitors who live more than 120 miles from the theme park from visiting. Theme park operators also had to wait until their respective counties were at the minimal risk-level before reopening, according to reports. Disney and several theme park operators criticized the proposed draft guidelines.
The California Attractions & Parks Association had no comment on the latest news about reopening theme parks.
Spectrum News 1 messages to Disneyland and Knott's officials were not returned as of press time.