ANAHEIM, Calif. -- California's major theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios will have to wait longer to reopen under guidance released by the state on Tuesday.
Larger theme parks will only be allowed to reopen in the least-restrictive, or yellow, fourth tier of the state's reopening framework, and even then, capacity will be limited to 25%.
Meanwhile, smaller theme parks will be able to open outdoor attractions in the orange, or third, tier of the COVID-19 roadmap. Smaller theme parks are considered those with a capacity of 15,000 or fewer.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly outlined the update on theme parks during a virtual press conference, stating that California is currently in tier 1.
Theme park reopening guidelines include:
- Smaller theme parks may resume operations in tier 3, with limited capacity at 25% or 500 people, whichever is fewer
- All theme parks may resume operations in tier 4 at 25% capacity
- All theme parks must implement a reservation system and screen guests for symptoms in advance. Face coverings are also mandatory throughout the park, except while eating or drinking
- Only residents of the same county as the theme park will be permitted
Dr. Ghaly stated that the more restrictive rules were established for larger theme parks -- like Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm -- because of the tourism that the parks draw, bringing people from outside communities to the area.
The state will also allow in-person attendance at outdoor sporting events in counties that are in the orange tier, with capacity limited to 20%. Counties in the least-restrictive yellow tier can only allow capacity at 25%. Ticket sales must be in advance and face coverings will be required.
"I hope one recognizes our stubbornness on a health-first, data-driven decision making process is done with our eyes wide open on what's happening now around the world," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. "... We have to maintain that vigilance so we can avoid any further increase in transmission."
Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and other theme parks in California have been closed since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Anaheim's tourist-based economy has been particularly hard hit due to the closures. A number of small businesses and independent hotels have remained closed waiting for the theme parks to reopen. The Walt Disney Co.'s Parks, Experiences and Products division, which includes Disneyland, recently announced 28,000 layoffs.
The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of this station.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.