As California’s largest, most iconic theme parks remain closed, Disneyland has criticized the state’s latest theme-park reopening guidelines, saying that the state will effectively keep its Southern California parks closed “for the foreseeable future.”
“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,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resorts, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “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,” he added.
— Disney Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) October 20, 2020
California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly talked about the new theme park opening guidelines on Tuesday afternoon and explained that the state has divided theme parks into two separate designations: Small parks, which typically serve as local attractions and have a capacity of fewer than 15,ooo visitors, and all other parks.
Small theme parks, such as boardwalks, can reopen once their county enters the third tier of California’s four-tier designation system (i.e., only 1-3.9 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, and no higher than a 4.9% coronavirus test positivity rate). These theme parks, however, can only be open to people who live inside of the host county.
But Disneyland, which can host as many as 85,000 people at once according to the Orange County Register, will need to wait on opening until Orange County, California, enters the fourth, lowest-risk level tier (i.e., only 1 new case per day per 100,000 residents, and no higher than a 2% coronavirus test positivity rate.)
Currently, California has several counties in the lowest-risk tier, but all but two have a population of more than 100,000 people: Humboldt County, which has about 135,000 people, and San Francisco County, which has roughly 900,000 people and was the first area in the nation to shut down, having enacted a shelter-in-place order back in March.
Orange County has over 3 million people and is currently in the second-highest tier. It’s unclear when the county will jump the two tiers necessary to reopen Disneyland, under California’s current guidelines. The state health secretary acknowledged as much on Tuesday afternoon, saying that neither he nor the state “have the crystal ball.”
“It will require a lot of work, it will require a lot of vigilance. It will require us to do testing, contact tracing and support isolation in serious and real ways throughout our communities to make sure that no part of our population is lagging or not, sort of, enjoying those reduced transmissions, but we believe it’s possible and San Francisco is a great case in point,” said Dr. Ghaly.