California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly warned Wednesday that larger theme parks will have a long way to go before they can reopen in the state of California.
Ghaly delivered a revision of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines on theme park and outdoor sporting events, announcing that larger theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios would have to wait until their counties reach the "minimal" yellow tier of the state’s reopening guidelines, which requires daily new coronavirus cases to be less than one per 100,000 people and for the positivity rate of the entire county to be less than 2%.
While he said state officials saw great examples of line management and keeping groups apart during their tours of the theme parks, Ghaly said officials had concerns about the level of mixing without masks.
As for outdoor sporting events, Ghaly said they would be able to open in the less restrictive Moderate tier of the state’s guidelines, arguing outdoor sporting activities are less high risk. The state argues that large theme parks are higher risk because they produce “random large scale mixing” and have “tens of thousands of visitors from a broad geographic base,” among other factors.
When asked about reaching the “Minimal” tier, Ghaly said just one county had done so on Wednesday but that the state does believe it’s possible.
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"It will require a lot of work," Ghaly said. "It will require a lot of testing and contact tracing, but we believe it’s possible and San Francisco is a great case in point.”
He acknowledged that he had no estimation as to when Los Angeles, Orange or San Diego counties would potentially reach the "Minimal" tier but was hopeful that “there is a path there.” At that point, the capacity limit for businesses is 25%. The distinction between large and small parks is set by whether the park operates over or under a 15,000-person capacity.
California reported 5,338 new confirmed cases Wednesday. Overall, there are more than 940,000 cases across the state. Orange County, where Disneyland is located, remains in the state's red tier, while Los Angeles, home to Universal Studios, is in the purple tier, the most restrictive.