Here is the latest response from California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly today on when the state will issue reopening guidance for theme parks:
"Theme parks continues to be a high priority for the administration and recognizing their role both as part of California life but also employment employment opportunities for thousands of Californians. As we do with every sector, we don't take that lightly — we are working closely with a number of the direct operators of theme parks and also the overall agency or organization representing theme parks, as well as our labor partners that represent the workers to ensure that we move forward together [with] low risk and in the safest way possible.
"I am not sure when those conversations wrap up. I will tell you that they will wrap up as soon as we come to really hear the industry and understand some of the concerns. We continue to look at the data and information that we have. So, no, no promise of a specific date, but I will say as soon as possible.
"Some of the important issues that we are looking at are obviously not just how the operations in the theme park go. I think there are so many important, thoughtful people who are working in many of our sectors across California who have been thinking about this with a great deal of passion and energy, not just so that they can reopen but also so that they can make sure that staff and patrons alike are in the safest position that they can be. But broader than that — really looking at the impact that the sector of theme parks has on broader communities — on the surrounding neighborhoods and the workplaces and the industry around, and how this isn't just about one piece, it's about the entire community and having dialogue with not just those operators, but others who both have a stake in what happens with this guidance, but also have a responsibility to reduce the risk for so many people from California who might visit a theme park town in the future."
The TL;DR? It's not just about the safety inside the parks for the state. It's about what happens when theme parks start attracting thousands of people to travel to Anaheim, Santa Clarita, Carlsbad and other communities where theme parks are located.
That suggests that the state won't be giving up its reported demand that parks not allow visitors from beyond a specific distance. The state has been handing reopening on a county by county basis, but widespread travel of Californians between counties would undercut that approach.
Rather having to than restrict businesses across all counties based on the worst conditions in the state, the state clearly would prefer that California keep closer to home and not travel across and out of the state, potentially spreading the reach of the virus.
Given that, are parks better off remaining closed until they can welcome people from beyond their home communities, or should they work with the state to resume operations for a limited audience? That seems to be a determinative question.
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