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California ‘getting closer’ to releasing guidelines on theme park reopenings, Newsom says

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When will theme parks welcome back visitors again in California? A potential reopening date has been up in the air for months, but more clarification could come soon.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated that a framework for such reopenings will be issued in the near future.

“We will make determinations in real time  — for theme parks, amusement parks and the like,” the governor said. “There’s still many areas where we are open-ended in terms of our negotiation, making progress and advancing in the same space.”

But, he added, the state is “getting closer to concluding when and how to safely reopen those sectors.” 

California theme parks — among them Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood — have all been shuttered since mid-March, as sweeping statewide stay-at-home measures forced many sectors to close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Disneyland had announced plans to open again on July 17 — its 65th anniversary — but ended up scrapping the date, citing the state’s delay in releasing much-anticipated reopening guidelines. The resort already has a list of new and enhanced health and safety measures that will be in place to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure once both are permitted to open.

The monthslong closures have prompted some theme parks to come up with creative ways to greet visitors again.

Knott’s Berry Farm, for instance, launched a Taste of Knott’s on its Buena Park property last month. The event, billed as an “outdoor dining and retail experience,” allows guests to enjoy the theme park’s food, beverage and shopping offerings, along with the Knott’s atmosphere.

To the south, SeaWorld San Diego opened last month on a limited basis, allowing access to animal exhibits and presentations, but not rides.

Additionally, Universal CityWalk and Downtown Disney reopened with modifications in June and July, respectively.

It’s unclear how the theme park reopenings will fit in the state’s new four-tiered system to guide business sectors. Orange County was moved to the second tier on Tuesday, joining San Diego as the only two Southern California counties to have some more restrictions lifted.

L.A. County, meanwhile, remains in the first tier.

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