11 July 2024
California on Friday paved the way for Disneyland, other theme parks and outdoor stadiums to welcome guests sooner than expected as it relaxed reopening criteria following a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases and pressure from operators.

The move announced by the state health department will permit ballparks, stadiums and mega-attractions including Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Universal Studios to admit visitors from April 1, according to conditions in their county, and at reduced capacities.

With these improvements, “California can begin gradually and safely bringing back more activities, especially those that occur outdoors and where consistent masking is possible,” state health secretary Mark Ghaly said in a statement.

Only outdoor activities are affected by the changes, which come as California’s governor Gavin Newsom faces mounting pressure and a bid to recall him from office over his handling of the pandemic.

Theme parks will only be allowed to reopen if their county drops below the state’s most-restrictive coronavirus “tier,” and then initially at 15 percent capacity and for California residents only.

Orange County — where Disneyland is located — currently remains in the strictest purple tier, as does neighboring Los Angeles county, where several other major tourist attractions are based.

The tiers use infection and positivity rates to set reopening rules, but have themselves been relaxed in recent days as the Golden State’s brutal winter Covid spike rapidly recedes, and as vaccinations ramp up.

Outdoor sports and live performances with fans will be allowed across the state from April 1, though capacity will again be determined by conditions in the state. Capacity will be limited to 100 California residents in the worst-hit areas.

Theme parks in particular had bristled at restrictions they considered too strict, which would have seen them placed among the last to reopen.

“Throughout the pandemic, California’s business community has been committed to protecting the health and safety of workers and customers -– and that won’t change now,” Newsom’s senior advisor Dee Dee Myers said.

“We will continue to work together with our partners across all sectors of the economy, as we reopen safely, sustainably and equitably.”