California theme parks unlikely to reopen for months, until treatment found

Disney

The Governor of California Gavin Newsom and California’s Department of Public Health director Dr. Sonia Angell have released a four-part plan for reopening the state.

Museums and theme parks like Disneyland have been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. This plan sets out how the state is going to reopen safely.

According to the plan, California is currently in phase one, which includes making the essential workforce environment as safe as possible. Testing, contact tracing and ensuring that PPE is widely available are key stages of this ‘Safety and Preparedness’ stage.

The OCR reports that during the livestream presentation of this plan, Newsom said that stage two is “weeks” away and stage three is likely to be “months” away. Stage four will require some form of coronavirus treatment.

Stage two allows lower risk workplaces to gradually open with modifications, such as retail, manufacturing and schools.

Theme parks likely to fall into stage four

Theme parks, museums, zoos and aquariums were not mentioned in this plan, so it is unclear which category they fall under. It is likely to be in stage four, the end of the stay-at-home order.

Examples of high-risk workplaces that fall into stage four are concerts, convention centres and live audience sports. These venues all have high levels of crowds.

If this is the case, then we are not going to see Californian attractions reopen until a form of treatment for coronavirus has been developed, which could be a long time away.

Dr Angell said in the livestream that “this is going to be a while, but there are ways we can modify the way we move around in our environment that will make it more possible [to reopen].”

Possible safety measures to enable reopening in stage three

It is possible that theme parks and other attractions could fall into stage three with certain restrictions.

‘Higher risk’ environments that are mentioned in the report as being able to open in stage three with “adaptations and limits on size of gatherings” are hair salons and entertainment venues like cinemas. These are venues that have some close contact but limited numbers of people.

Whilst the plan does not specify what these adaptions are, it is possible that by reducing capacity and introducing social distancing measures, theme parks may be able to reopen during this stage. This will allow them to partially reopen in months.

Florida’s task force recently published guidelines for reopening theme parks, restaurants and hotels in Florida. This plan is broken down into two phases, with theme parks reopening at 50% capacity in phase one with social distancing measures in place throughout the park.