California's theme parks will be able to reopen in the next stage of the state's reopening plans rather than having to wait until the final stage, a state spokesperson confirmed today.
California is now officially in stage two of its four-stage reopening plan, though California Governor Gavin Newsom today gave the majority of the state's counties the go-ahead to proceed into the first phases of stage three. In stage two, in-person dining and retail can begin to reopen while following new social distancing and hygiene protocols. Today's announcement gives selected counties the ability to reopen barbershops and beauty salons, though only if everyone wears masks.
"Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable," California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar told my Orange County Register colleague Brady MacDonald in an email today.
It had been unclear whether theme parks would be classified with movie theaters and indoor museums as a stage three activity or with concerts and in-person sporting events in stage four. Putting theme parks in stage three should allow parks to open months earlier than they would have been had they been included in the final, fourth stage of the state's reopening plans.
Though California has a four-stage plan for reopening, each stage includes several phases and counties are allowed to move through the reopening process at various speeds. The state's most populated counties, including Los Angeles County, remain in the first phases of stage two, so in-person dining and hair salons will remain closed there for the time being. But Orange and San Diego counties got the state's okay last week to move deeper into stage two, allowing in-person dining to resume. Today's announcement should clear the way for hair salons to begin reopening in those counties, as well.
Los Angeles County is home to Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain, while Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm are in Orange County and Legoland California and SeaWorld San Diego are in San Diego County. So far, no major theme parks in California have announced that they have submitted plans for reopening to local or state officials.
Governor Newsom also said today that the state is talking with Los Angeles County about the possibility of some areas of the county moving through the reopening process before others, but that's not yet been decided. As it stands now, though, if Orange and San Diego counties were to remain ahead of Los Angeles County in the reopening process, that could clear SeaWorld, Legoland, Knott's, and Disney to return before Universal and Six Flags, though it would be up to each park to decide when it wishes to apply to reopen.
Here's the current reopening schedule for other theme parks across the country:
Walt Disney World tomorrow will present to Orange County, Florida officials its proposal for a phased reopening of its theme parks. SeaWorld Orlando also is slated to present.
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