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Disneyland, Universal Studios Can't Reopen Until County COVID-19 Spread Is Minimal

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California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is delivering an update on coronavirus in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that Ghaly would be announcing an update on guidelines for both theme parks and sports, with the theme park guidelines being broken into multiple parts.

You can watch the full video of Dr. Ghaly's press conference above or read highlights below.


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The state has released full reopening guidelines for theme parks/amusement parks. Smaller theme parks are allowed to resume operations in Tier 3 (orange/moderate spread), while all theme parks — including larger ones like Disneyland — will be allowed to resume operations in Tier 4 (yellow/minimal spread).

Large theme parks will have a limited capacity of 25 percent when allowed to reopen.

Small theme parks are limited to 25 percent capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer. Those are defined as theme parks with a capacity of 15,000 or less. They are only allowed to open outdoor attractions, and ticket sales are limited to visitors in the same county.

Responding to concerns about whether large counties will be able to get to the yellow tier, Ghaly said that the state believes that it's possible, but that it will require a lot of work and vigilance. He cited San Francisco County as an example of a county that's made that kind of progress.

All theme parks are required to implement reservation systems and screen guests for symptoms in advance, while face coverings will be mandatory throughout the park unless eating or drinking.

Theme parks are a higher-risk setting that outdoor stadiums, according to Ghaly. He shared this slide:

Slide on why theme parks are higher risk than outdoor stadiums. (Courtesy California Public Health)

The state sent teams to meet with theme park operators, as well as teams to visit operating theme parks in other parts of the nation, with those teams reporting back. Ghaly said those teams returned with lessons on how lines were managed well, but that they also saw troubling mixing — including without masks.

Disney issued a response to the new guidelines from Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock:

"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. 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."

Orange County Health has indicated it's going to be difficult for the county to reach minimal COVID-19 spread anytime soon. At a Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting, Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau said:
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"I think for a large county like us, especially a county with institution of higher education where folks [are] coming in from outside the county and outside the state, I think it’s going to be very hard to achieve the yellow tier.

“It depends on when the vaccine will come as well as how many doses [are] available for our populations as well as how many of our residents will readily accept the vaccine – those are the three factors that will determine how soon we can get to the yellow tier.

“Personally, I think that we can look forward to a yellow tier by next summer, hopefully. Hopefully.”

The California Attractions and Parks Association, a theme park industry group, released their own statement.

"By forcing amusement parks to stay closed until their home county reaches Tier 4, the Governor has issued a 'Keep Theme Parks Closed Indefinitely' Plan which will devastate California’s major theme park industry," Executive Director Erin Guerrero said in a statement. "We urge Governor Newsom to revise this guidance to allow for a reasonable and responsible reopening of California’s signature theme park industry in Tier 3."


Professional sports are allowed to resume in Tier 3 (moderate spread/orange) at 20% capacity, and in Tier 4 (minimal spread/yellow) at 25% capacity. Ticket sales will be restricted to customers within a 120-mile radius. Advance ticket sales and assigned seats are required, with no day-of or will-call ticket sales.

People will only be allowed to eat or drink in their assigned seats. Face coverings are mandatory unless eating or drinking. Tailgating is prohibited, but parking at the stadium is required.


All personal care services are allowed now to resume operations indoor statewide, including in the purple tier.


Southern California's Riverside County moved back to the strick purple tier, indicating widespread COVID-19 spread. Three SoCal counties are in this tier: Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

The state announced that it will be partnering with these counties to:

  • increase testing resources in key areas
  • provide isolation resources
  • community-based organization partnerships
  • business education and enforcement in partnership with state agencies


The state's seven-day COVID-19 average is 3,096, with 2.6% 14-day positivity rate. There were 3,286 new cases in the most recent reporting period.

Ghaly noted that many states across the U.S. are experiencing a new wave of coronavirus cases, but that California isn't currently facing an increase.

Current projections show a 46% increase in hospitalizations a month from now, Ghaly said — that's down from an earlier projection of an 89% rise. There are currently 2,241 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with projections of 3,271 people hospitalized. He also added that the models showing these projections are publicly available at, with both state and county-level data.

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