Some smaller theme parks might be able to reopen soon under new guidelines issued today by the state of California. However, larger theme parks — including Disneyland and Universal Studios — will have to wait until their counties get to the state's least restrictive Covid-19 tier.
California Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly revealed the guidelines today. Theme parks with a capacity of 15,000 people or fewer may begin to reopen in the state's third tier, the Orange tier, but attendance is limited to 500 people or 25 percent of the park's capacity, whichever is less.
Guests must make advance reservations to visit and the parks are limited to outdoor operations only. Mask use will be required for all people in the park, except when actively eating or drinking. And only people from the park's home county may attend.
In the Yellow tier — the least restrictive for counties with minimal Covid-19 exposure — all parks may operate at 25 percent of capacity, with no hard number limit. Reservations and masks will continue to be required, but there will not be a geographical restriction on visitors.
Currently, no major theme parks in California are located in counties that have made it to the Yellow tier. The state announced today that San Francisco County has entered the Yellow tier. Its closest parks are Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is in Solano County, which is assigned to the Red tier, and California's Great America is in Santa Clara County, which is in the Orange tier. But Dr. Ghaly pointed to San Francisco's example when challenged by reporters to answer whether big parks such as Disneyland could ever reopen.
"We don't have the crystal ball. I don't know in Orange County or San Diego County will indeed enter yellow but as I said earlier, I think there's lots of work we can do together — both state and local leaders, business leaders, community leaders, and individuals — to do what we can to make sure that we reduce transmission throughout our counties and there is a path forward there. We do not know when, but we do know how, and I think we'll continue to put in the hard work to get us there — one county at a time but across the entire state is our goal," he said.
Dr. Ghaly called theme parks a higher risk than outdoor sports stadiums due to the fact that large parks typically attract people from a wider geographic area than stadium events and that people move around more in theme parks, making contact tracing much harder than for an event where people have assigned seats. After releasing the theme park guidance, Dr. Ghaly detailed opening guidance for stadium events, which can begin welcoming spectators at 20 percent capacity in the Orange tier and 25 percent in Yellow. However, admission is limited to people who live within 120 miles of the stadium. Advance sales with assigned seats will be required.
You can dive into the details behind California's tier system on the state's Covid-19 website, which includes the current county tier assignments.
Update: Here is the statement 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."
And here is a statement from Orange County Health Director Dr. Clayton Chau that Disneyland released: “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."
And from Universal, we get this:
It's official. We’ll only be responding to 25% of our tweets until further notice. ????— Universal Studios Hollywood (@UniStudios) October 20, 2020
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"Outdoor attractions only,"
So, essentially even if Orange County reaches the Yellow Tier, the following attractions could not operate at Disneyland/DCA...
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye
All of the Fantasyland dark rides
Even if LA County reaches Yellow Tier, the only attractions that USH could actually operate would be:
...that's it. Who's going to pay for that?
This is absolutely RIDICULOUS!! DL/DCA and USH won't be opening for over a year given these rules. I guess that California scouting party spent too much time on the Teacups at MK before coming up with this guidance.
I mean even if Disneyland/Universal could open, Disneyland could only operate 40% of attractions. Universal could literally only operate Flight of the Hypogrif and the Studio Tour. Would Jurassic World be considered an outdoor or indoor attraction though?
Does anyone know if Knotts would be considered a small park by the definition? "Smaller parks are defined as parks with overall capacity fewer than 15,000 based on the design/operating capacity or fire department occupant limit." I'm not sure if Themeparkdatabase.com is a reliable site for information but it states that knott's max capacity is 29,000. So they could potentially be considered a "small park" if the daily average is 15,000 or less. Magic Mountain's capacity says 69,000, but it's hard to say that they get even half of that on a daily basis.
So all in all, Newsom is letting small parks get their way while the "big boys" who pushed him and his team have to go sit in a corner and think about what they've done for punishment. I hope Newsom's team had a fun vacation in Orlando. Seems like it had no effect on this outcome.
So it looks like the concern is importing the disease from elsewhere. An understandable concern.
The last thing you want to do is open too far and too fast, we're seeing the consequences now in the UK of that. The one thing worse than being shut, is opening only to have to quickly shut again.
I get people are frustrated, but with 200k in the US dead from Covid (and potentially as high as 300k if you use the excess death figure instead of countin the word covid on death certificates), hard choices need to be made... and right now that golden jewel that California has, is a millstone.
But it will pass.
Ooof. The outdoor limitations. This could mean 27 out 65 Disneyland attractions are operational. (Most of them are trains (x4) and main street vehicles). Then 15 out of 30 at CA Adventure.
So 60 minutes in an indoor queue followed by a 3 minute outdoor ride is OK, but 10 minutes in an indoor queue followed by a 3 minute indoor ride is BAD?
"with 200k in the US dead from Covid (and potentially as high as 300k if you use the excess death figure instead of countin the word covid on death certificates)"
Less due to people dying WITH covid being counted as dying BECAUSE of covid?
Based on what Ghaly just announced, one of two things are about to happen...
1. California is about to get wrecked by lawsuits from every sector of the theme park industry
2. One or more of California's theme parks are about to announce a permanent closure
Seriously, California has ignored every piece of evidence that it is possible to operate a theme park safely even in current conditions and released guidelines that are wholly unrealistic for park operators. With no operation until the yellow tier (which best case will be reached in spring/summer 2021), and even then only 25% capacity allowed, operating a theme park is not viable in California for the foreseeable future. If you're employed by that industry, b\I'd highly encourage you to start looking for a different career immediately, because there's now a very real possibility hundreds of thousands are going to be laid off in the very near future.
It sounds like the 'inspection tour' that Newsom's team took of other theme parks had no effect, their minds were already made up. Disney World draws visitors from outside the area, why would it be more of a concern at Disneyland? The important thing is the safety guidelines. The park was set to reopen July 17, then a spike in cases happened and the opening was canceled, but the curve has now gone down to close to pre-spike levels. You talk about people not wearing masks, but wherever I go in SoCal I see everyone wearing masks. Even schools are reopening, it's going to be hard to justify keeping Disneyland closed as more businesses reopen. Two words to describe the guidelines, impossible and draconian.
It's not clear from the detailed guidelines that the outdoor only restriction applies anymore in the yellow tier. The guidelines say that outdoor and indoor dining establishments must be limited to 25 percent capacity, but it does not repeat the outdoor-attractions-only restriction under the orange tier.
Reading the PDF linked, it says that "outdoor only" restriction is only for the "orange" tier that applies only to the < 15,000 capacity parks.
When a county is in "yellow" tier, there is no "outdoors only" restriction. Meaning Disneyland, Universal, and et all can open all attractions with the proper distancing, barrier fencing, etc.
Am I missing something?
Less due to people dying WITH covid being counted as dying BECAUSE of covid?
Oh, God, can we STOP that stupid theory already?!
TheSeg, no, you're not. Dr. Ghaly's presentation was unclear about that, so you had to dive into the PDF to see the actual restrictions.
"Oh, God, can we STOP that stupid theory already?!"
It's NOT a theory according to my neighbors that are ER surgeons!
Wow ok, I'm not sure what I was expecting but these regulations are a LOT stricter than I anticipated.
I live in Orange County. Movie theaters are open. Most schools are open and allow 15 people in a classroom for 6 classes a day. Outdoor dining is open and will seat 50+ people together in a small, outdoor patio. Outdoor shopping malls are open and are flooded with teenagers every Friday night. Hell, they even opened up Knott's Berry Farm for that food festival a few months back!
Therefore, I really don't understand what's so bad about opening up Disneyland at limited capacity. As long as indoor lines are held outdoors (for rides like Indy, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, etc. you could simply just expand the outdoor section of the queue to limit the number of people waiting in the indoor portion), masks are required, the park is at limited capacity, and only OC residents are allowed to visit, I really don't see how it's any worse for COVID than a movie theater, school, or outdoor shopping mall. If anything, I know that, for a lot of people including myself, a visit to "the happiest place on earth" would honestly really help in the midst of this national mental health crisis.
Also, what's up with the "parks with a capacity under 15,000" restriction? If a park with a capacity of 2,000 people can have 500 people, why not let a park like Knott's have 500 people, too? If anything, Knott's is more spread out than that smaller park AND I trust Cedar Fair's COVID clean-up routines much more than some small family-owned park.
Overall, this is the longest I've ever gone without visiting a theme park, and if I'm really about to go 2 full years without being able to go to any, it might just be worth the COVID risk to fly out to Disney World.
Comorbidity is a thing. Future comments arguing about that will be deleted.
This is starting to turn ridiculous. I understand the need for masks and social distancing, but Disney and Universal have proven time and time again that they are serious about health based on the FL parks. Disney and Universal have set the standard for reopening.
I think both parks should start taking legal action. I believe that COVID is a serious thing and that science should lead on this, but we are at a point where its no longer about safety.
What a waste - Newsome is going to lose some votes!
On October 12th, TPI reported: "The state of California has sent inspectors to check out theme parks around the country, as it looks forward to reopening parks within the state, Governor Gavin Newsom said today."
The article continues, quoting the governor: "'We have supported an effort to actually find out directly by sending our own team to these sites as relates to theme parks, to get a better sense of what's going on. While we absolutely take people's word for information that they provide us, we want to see things for ourselves.'"
Did this actually happen? Which parks did Governor Jackass' crew visit? When (or rather, "if") they were actually at the parks, did they meet with safety and operations management? Were there protocols that they believed were exceptional and demonstrated the parks' commitment to guests and employees? And were there items they would like to see improved or implemented?
Governor Jackass made that public commitment. It was made to park employees and the constituents who make a living (directly or indirectly) off of those parks when they are open.
Did the state of California actually send its "own team to these sites as relates to theme parks" in a substantive effort? Or was that just a flat out lie -- that will affect employees in BOTH California and Orlando.
I don't think Newsom thinks very highly of the theme park industry/community. He's clearly shown that on multiple occasions through his hypocritical actions and policy's.
And can someone please give USH's twitter account manager a raise? They have consistently been hilarious during the lockdown.
Does anyone else think that the rules would be looser if something with the same risk was more "mature"?
I understand that this is a theme park blog, and that we are all rooting for this industry. I also understand that Disney does this stuff well, no doubt better than anyone. But I also think that the wisdom of this decision will only be understood later, when the winter COVID wave is over. I am a classical musician, and I haven’t been able to play a public concert since February. None of us expect to be working anytime soon. It impacts my life and livelihood and it stinks. But I am not gonna go blame the government for “preventing” people from going to concerts. For now, anyway, concerts are too dangerous. 200,000 dead is, in some ways, too big a number to comprehend. What if a theme park had badly maintained their rides and 10 people died on them. We would shut it down until it could be made into a safe place. While Disney is doing all they can, we can’t possibly know if it is good enough. Do we trust the state of FL to share about the number of cases caught at WDW? Are there even records? How many deaths are an acceptable number? I do get that there are dire consequences on the other end too, but I just don’t get this one-sided argument that CA is trying to destroy business, or somehow hates theme parks. There are few places that bring more people together from further apart and mix them quite so effectively as a theme park. I want my concerts, and my theme parks too, but COVID had other plans...
@jonahsirota: THANK YOU. I've been lucky to have an essential job at UPS but I've seen the effects of scores of others out of work. But as Robert said a while ago "you can help the unemployed, you can't help the dead." Thanks for some perspective on how Newsom is handling this mess as best he can without unneeded risk.
@Jonah -- No one is saying that Covid isn't serious and deadly. The argument is that theme parks should not be regulated more strictly than literally every other industry in California. It's not safe yet for theme parks but indoor shopping and dining are fine? Etc.
Also, I think you and perhaps Governor Newsom keep picturing a crowded, pre-Covid theme park. Yep, that would never work now. But Disney, Universal, and others have adapted and put a ton of precautions/restrictions in place in Florida and around the world.
Does California know something that the rest of the world does not? That theme parks are somehow the most dangerous place imaginable for spreading Covid?
Theme parks seem to be operating safely and responsibly literally everywhere else in the world. What's the hangup? where's the disconnect?
Universal Studios Florida has been back open since June 5. Disney World since around July 17, if I recall correctly.
There's been no reported outbreak. Their being open doesn't seem to be influencing the state's case numbers one way or the other.
Plenty of people thought that their being open would LITERALLY kill people. Yeah, that doesn't seem to have happened, thankfully.
I wish everywhere enforced mask usage and social distancing like Universal and Disney are!
So uhh... why can't they open in California?
I don’t see how small theme parks can successfully reopen with only 500 people in them.
Newsome, a Democrat, is not going to lose enough votes over this in the incredibly blue state of California.
Do stadium events really attract those from a smaller geographic area in California? In the Midwest we get fans from up to a 10 hour drive on a regular basis at pro and college games.
Disney and possibly Universal has got to be prepping some sort of lawsuit.
Over counting death may or may not be true. What is true is antibody tests are coming in at a rate 10 times higher than expected. That means instead of eight million U.S. cases, there may be EIGHTY million. That being the case, the death rate would be about 0.35%.
@atlblaze, it’s the difference between how a doctor and an epidemiologist look at this. If you say to your doctor, can I risk eating out? Can I risk going to the mall? They might say, avoid unnecessary risk but one time is probably pretty safe. But when you’re looking at the spread of the epidemic, opening something which draws people to the state and the region, it is likely to increase the epidemic. I went to downtown Disney last weekend. It was pleasant and I felt relatively safe. But it was still a high-risk environment because lots of people were there. While no outbreak has been linked to WDW, are we taking that to mean that no one has contracted COVID from visiting? Seeing how there are people getting covid all the time everywhere, that seems pretty unlikely.
Well said Jonah..
And kudos for Newsome and his administration for speaking truth to power and putting Californian lives ahead of business interests. This new plan is imminently reasonable, and basically puts the pressure on citizens to do their part to decrease the transmission so the parks can open. You're pissed off that Disneyland can't open? WEAR YOUR MASK. You think these rules are draconian and want them to end? WEAR YOUR MASK. You say it's going to take forever to get to yellow? WEAR YOUR MASK.
If Americans had done the right thing in March, or in July, the parks would be open, like they are in most other countries that displayed common sense. Maybe if Californians rally around these new rules, insist the people around them wear their masks, call out the self-righteous idiots who don't wear their mask, refuse service to maskless fool, then hopefully one day soon my kids' school here in San Francisco can open, I can go back to work, and THEN we can plan a Disneyland vacation.
Keep up the great work Governor Newsome.
Yes, WEAR A MASK! Here's a Disney-inspired "Wear A Mask" music video: Wear a Mask (Be Our Guest Parody) - YouTube ...Enjoy! :)
"You're pissed off that Disneyland can't open? WEAR YOUR MASK. You think these rules are draconian and want them to end? WEAR YOUR MASK. You say it's going to take forever to get to yellow? WEAR YOUR MASK."
You know who would enforce mask usage and other appropriate behavior? An open Disneyland.
Disney's Orlando operations are quite impressive. Universal's, too. I've never seen such high mask compliance. Never seen so many people ACTUALLY taking the social distancing markers seriously. And I've also never sanitized my hands so frequently (mandatory at Universal, actually).
Obviously there's always going to be a risk. But maybe, just maybe the Disney and Universal models actually do work?
Or if theme parks are so obviously dangerous, surely there must be some evidence of that with theme parks being open in Florida for nearly 5 months now? (spoiler: there isn't any).
The thing with this virus is that there is literally no 'safe' course of action other than locking everybody up in their homes, no exceptions, for a couple of months. Literally no one to meet, mingle, mix or travel. The virus would burn itself out, but there would still be deaths - from those who had the virus and couldn't be treated and those who fell ill with something else. But when we emerged there would be no virus left. Of course that's a ludicrous suggestion for a course of action because in practice life has to go on and every government has to take decisions that it knows will cost lives. It's just a matter of how many lives - balancing how many lives is worth retaining some degree of the economy or the health service.
That's the struggle in the UK right now. The epidemiologists want total lock-down because their focus is on lives saved from Covid. The Government however has to balance that against lives lost because of 'Covid fallout' - not only those that die because they can't access normal health care right now but the lives that will be lost as livelihoods are decimated. There's a direct correlation between life expectancy and economic performance. Recessions can be measured in the excess deaths they cause. Your governor appears to be focussing very much on the immediate, obvious deaths, but at what cost will that come in deaths and shattered lives yet to come? It's a tough call but the longer things stay shut down the greater will be the long term fall-out.
Josh Sirota: “Do we trust the state of FL to share about the number of cases caught at WDW?”
Me: The New York Times published a comprehensive investigative article citing multiple sources (including public health officials and union leaders) that all testified there have been no sign of outbreaks at the parks. Additionally (Anecdotally) the protocols in place that are being enforced in the parks have been widely lauded by guests.
And why should we trust the state of California? My post raises very specific questions about their team of experts that allegedly visited the parks. Which parks? Who did they meet with in safety and operations management? Did they, in fact, meet with in safety and operations management? What did they LIKE about the way the parks were being managed? What exactly could they improve? Why should the burden be on the park operators? Why shouldn’t the government be transparent as well?
Josh Sirota: “I do get that there are dire consequences on the other end too …”
Me: Do you? Then why don’t you include them in your post? Why not visit social media sites like all the Facebook pages started by cast members who have lost their jobs? Why is your post not just as guilty as being “one-sided”?
My wife and I spent time with two cast members last weekend. They are in their early fifties they have been with the company for twenty-plus years and they are at a loss. And they work for a park that has made every effort to create a safe environment. That sir is the “other end.”
Josh Sirota: "While no outbreak has been linked to WDW, are we taking that to mean that no one has contracted COVID from visiting?"
Me: Of course not! However, considering the volume of traffic at these parks (Universal and Disney -- thousands of people daily) the FACT that there has been ZERO EVIDENCE of a substantial outbreak involving hundreds and hundreds of cases, it should stand as powerful testimony hat the operators are acting responsibly. Further, considering this substantial achievement, elected officials who have the power to cause thousands to lose their jobs without real due process should have the burden to justify their actions and be transparent about their decisions.
The government of California should not get the benefit of the doubt. Period.
How long do folks think these regulations will be in effect for?
Movie man, it depends on people. I think in the US, particularly in certain parts there’s going to be resistance to taking the vaccine. We’re already seeing craziness about how it’s going to implant a remote readable tracking chip, despite that being physically impossible (not technologically impossible, physically impossible - you can’t make an antenna that small that’s readable at skin level, much less across the room).
OC Register: "'We sent health officials to open and operating theme parks out of state last week, independently of operators, to assess the health safeguards in practice,' according to California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar. 'These visits will help inform our pending theme park guidance.'”
Me: Uh-huh. Which parks? Did your "team" meet with operations and safety management? What did you "team" like about the safety protocols that were in place? What did your "team" determine is lacking? Did they publish a report? Can we see it? Considering their excursion was on the taxpayer's dime, all of these questions seem reasonable.
TH raises a great point. The story last week coming from Newsom was that they were reconsidering the initially drafted guidelines at the behest of the industry so the state could perform "research" on how parks around the world have been operating during the pandemic. After just a week of "research" (even though it took months for California to finally draft the initial guidelines), California has released "revised" guidelines that are pretty much the same as were rumored last week when the industry requested a pause. Exactly what did the State of California learn from their "research", and how precisely did the previously drafted guidance change over the past week? Who performed the "research", and exactly where did they go? How were guidelines that took months to finally draft updated in less than a week after the "research"? Was the "research" even considered in the final published guidance?
From a 10000-foot view, it really appears that California doesn't give a darn about the industry, and is using a false premise of preventing spread to deliberately punish an industry that brings billions into the state every single year. All they've done is string theme parks along while allowing other businesses with similar risk profiles to operate with little to no restrictions on their activity. Now the state is going to allow stadiums to host tens of thousands of fans for events while keeping theme parks shuttered. Did California perform the same research on stadium operations before making this decision? Have they seen the rampant non-compliance with masking in seating areas during events? Have they read the case studies that have traced specific outbreaks DIRECTLY to stadium events, while not a single outbreak has been traced to a theme park (even before shutdowns started back in March)?
The State of California continues to be hypocritical in their policies and guidance, and it sounds like the theme park industry has lost their patience. I definitely expect some legal action forthcoming.
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that these parks can't really go anywhere and Newsome knows that so he can use them as sacrificial lambs to keep their case numbers down. I wonder though if a company like Six Flags, who has had financial issues for decades, will make it out without going bankrupt again.
If Disney and Universal were to say F you, we're moving our headquarters/movie studios to Florida I think you'd see the state all of a sudden willing to open the parks a lot quicker. But that will never happen because all those execs would rather live in California.
Following up on Russell:
And this is also VERY IMPORTANT: Why just one trip to Florida? Why not send two or three people to observe what WDW and Universal are doing? Why not have those observers sit in meetings and talk with cast members? You KNOW Disney didn't slap together a COVID plan and say "Go! That's it ... Just GO!" Rather they are constantly monitoring its management. They are making necessary changes to their approach.
Send the observers back. Leave them there!
the_man: "Ultimately it comes down to the fact that these parks can't really go anywhere and Newsome knows that so he can use them as sacrificial lambs to keep their case numbers down."
Me: Actually the "sacrificial lambs" are the Disney cast members and the employees of contractors and vendors who service DLR.
@TH - What I'm suggesting is that California actually didn't do ANY "research", and had already preordained what the guidance would be. They used this week as yet another delay tactic and to make it appear that they looked at theme park operations around the rest of the world when in reality they did NOTHING!! How in the world could they have made sufficient observations and conclusions in less than a week when it took them MONTHS to draft the initial draft guidance? The answer is they couldn't have, and this "research" that the state supposedly performed was nothing but a vacation for some cronies in Sacramento who added diddly squat to the "revised" theme park guidance.
I don't disagree. If they had sent teams to Central Florida, local media would have reported it. And, again, had those visits actually occurred, there must be some sort of documentation -- a written report or audit.
@THCreative: "Do you? Then why don’t you include them in your post? Why not visit social media sites like all the Facebook pages started by cast members who have lost their jobs? Why is your post not just as guilty as being “one-sided”?"
My initial post was about how, as a classical musician, I have been out of work for 7 months. I don't know what the future holds for my industry, as I am sure some significant percentage of orchestras will have to fold as a result of this pandemic. I appreciate the passion, anger, and frustration that you feel about this decision and others like it. In the next month, we are going to witness COVID rates and deaths start to spike like we haven't seen before in this country. The conversation is going to be very different. Look at North Dakota infection rates (they are one of the earliest states to get winter weather), to get a sense of where we're headed. Their death rates are still low, but those have tarditionally been 5 weeks behind infection spikes, and are much worse once hospitals get over-crowded, something that has started. The very thing that makes Disney Parks a viable industry (namely that they attract and sustain crowds from all around the world), is the thing that makes them uniquely problematic in the time of a pandemic. I want them to thrive. I want Disney employees to keep their jobs. I won't let you make me out to be some heartless monster.
Like so many subjects over the last few years, I see how easy it is for our conversations to devolve into one-sided heated argument. I am not the problem here. COVID-19 is. Decisions were made on a national level that are still pitting us against one another. I want to go back to work. That is currently impossible. Pretending things are fine doesn't make things fine. Real people, with families, are losing their jobs. Real people, with families, are dying.
>> I want Disney employees to keep their jobs. I won't let you make me out to be some heartless monstet.
I think this is something all sides should bear in mind.
Those of us who want stronger measures... don’t actually want stronger measures. We don’t want people to lose their jobs. We don’t want the economy to tank, and we don’t want this to go on a minute longer than it has to. The way we see it however, that bitter pill of stronger measures now, and pain to the economy now, means that the effects don’t have to last as long as they otherwise might, and those consequences that can never be made whole again are reduced as much as possible.
Just as I appreciate those on the other side who want as much as the economy to be open arent monsters who want to add more corpses to the pile. There are serious concerns about keeping stuff closed, and making sure people get fed, clothed and homed - it’s is my day job helping people do just that.
The question is balance, I hope we all try to remember that. Nobody on either side is doing anything just for the sake of it... well no one here. There are sadly some who are too self absorbed but I don’t think it’s anyone here.
Now, let me going into the science of the California tier system, which is an aspect of this process that's not being discussed here. Let's start by looking at the actual metrics associated with each tier, and I'll just look at the Orange and Yellow tiers since those are the only levels where theme parks are allowed to operate. In reality, the Yellow Tier is the only tier that really matters since the Orange Tier only allows for theme parks to operate with 500 guests, which is completely impractical for even the smallest of parks (like Santa Monica Pier).
Here are the requirements of the Orange and Yellow Tiers...
Adjusted case rate (1-3.9/<1)
w/7 day lag
Positive rate (2-4.9/<2)
The other important aspect is that both of these metrics are "adjusted" based on the number of tests completed in a county/locale compared to the state's median. That means, if fewer tests are given, the rates are adjusted by a multiplier (i.e. if the number of tests administered is only 25% of the state median - likely because people aren't sick - the case rate is multiplied by 1.3 and artificially inflated). That's just one of the aspects of biased data manipulation the state is performing that will make progressing through the different tiers next to impossible. Another data manipulation is requiring testing confirmation by PCR, which creates a deliberate data lag. A number of new testing technologies have been developed to provide reliable results in a fraction of the time of PCR. While the accuracy of these other tests is not quite what PCR has demonstrated (though PCR is an older, more widely researched technology not without its own faults), those other methods are far more effective in slowing the spread by identifying positive individuals quickly and recommending isolation and conducting contact tracing. By requiring case data to come solely from PCR, it creates an artificial data lag that will make it even more difficult for counties/locales to progress through the tiers, especially when added to the inherent lag in a 7-day rolling average AND the artificial 7-day lag required in California's tier system. A person could theoretically test positive by SalivaDirect today, but not have PCR results until next week. However, that positive test would not be logged as a positive case until that PCR result is reported (October 28). That positive test would affect the local average for the 7 days following (through November 4), which would then continue to hamper the county/locale's ability to progress to the next tier for the 7-days following (November 11). Even if the person were to take a SalivaDirect test on October 23 that immediately shows the person as negative with a confirmatory PCR negative test providing results on October 30, the county/local is stuck with that positive result for the following @2 weeks.
Finally, the comments from Dr Ghaly and the data provided within the Tier system does not allow for any progression beyond the Yellow Tier. Even if a county/locale were to effectively reach a ZERO positive rate with ZERO current cases, there's nowhere else for that county to go, meaning they have to maintain the restrictions for some unknown amount of time. Given what Dr. Ghaly noted about a potential vaccine, it's unclear when California would EVER be satisfied with a nominal case load. As Dr. Ghaly insinuates, distributing a vaccine will not be easy, and there will be a significant percentage of the populations that will either resist a vaccine and/or be unable to take a vaccine due to certain factors. Additionally, the efficacy of a "successful" vaccine is only 50%, so even if every person in California were vaccinated, only half of them would actually be protected by it. That means the State will continue to see COVID-19 cases for YEARS with instances of mass transmission that will likely occur throughout our lifetime as with ANY infectious disease (Polio, Chicken Pox, and many other infectious diseases continue to spread throughout the world today). The Tiers do not allow for any lower tier beyond Yellow, and Dr. Ghaly statements indicate that eliminating the tiers might not occur for well over a year (if not longer). California simply fails to recognize that coronavirus will NEVER be truly abated from our world, and refuses to establish reasonable guidance to live and prosper in areas where there is some limited transmission of the virus.
As some here like to point out, other parts of the world have handled this virus much better, but even those places are seeing flare-ups of the virus occur from time to time. However, instead of going back to draconian lock-downs and extreme measures to limit further transmission, they are taking more subtle actions and issuing localized recommendations to limit further spread. THAT is how we should be handling this virus now, NOT artificially locking people down and irreparably damaging the economy and people's lives.
J. Sirota: "In the next month, we are going to witness COVID rates and deaths start to spike like we haven't seen before in this country."
Me: That is ABSOLUTELY conjecture. You're making predictions that (if they are the basis for policy mandates and they turn out to be wrong) may have permanent damage on the lives of the unemployed.
J. Sirota: "The conversation is going to be very different. Look at North Dakota infection rates ..."
Me: Disneyland is not located in North Dakota. I am going to quote Russell Meyer's BRILLIANT post specific to California. "When you look at the new case and death graphs for the State of California, they are flat with a slight downward trend since a peak on August 11. The data presented over the past 30 days are actually a textbook scientific example of "stability". In reality, the state's goal is NOT to reach "stability", it is to reach unattainable eradication of the virus that will decimate entire industries and livelihoods beholden to such unrealistic and politically motivated strong-arm tactics."
Also, you ignore the New York Times article which investigated Disney's work in Florida and contends (to date) there have been no indication of significant outbreaks related to Disney or Universal.
J. Sirota: " I won't let you make me out to be some heartless monster."
Me: I'm not. But have you read the New York Times article? Have you really done any research into the protocols in place at WDW or UOR? Do you have any reason to believe that Governor Jackass actually sent teams to the Orlando parks? Or worked with park operations or safety management? Or published an assessment of the in-place protocols that seem to be working?
If you haven't I wouldn't call you a monster. I'd say you are offering an uninformed opinion.
Many are totally forgetting that most of the transmissions are at social events without masks and not socially distanced indoors. Look at recent stories in the media about weddings, sweet 16 parties, and past large super-spreaders like cruise ships. Going around socially distanced at places that enforce mask mandates like WDW, Universal Orlando, Target, Trader Joe's, and indoor malls all appear to be relatively safe. I think Disneyland and other theme parks should open now, as I believe the upcoming spikes we will see will not be people out and about visiting outdoor eating/ essential shopping/ getting a haircut, but it will be thanks to Halloween and people so sick of shelter-in-place with nothing to do past essential shopping, many depressed and bored (thanks to things like virtual work/ school, unemployment, pay cuts, missing friends/ family), that they are going to hang indoors with friends and family, without masks, with 0 social distancing. Disneyland and friends staying shuttered only promotes a bad economy.
On another note, it will be interesting to see how many Californians finally exit this pandemic with issues of anxiety, depression, weight gain, alcoholism, and drug dependency. Any how, I am very tired of being nannied, and I am tired of Newsom not making smart decisions whether about the above, re-opening schools, or how to better help the homeless.
"Look at North Dakota infection rates (they are one of the earliest states to get winter weather), to get a sense of where we're headed."
That's a completely unproven hypothesis. It's just as likely that the spike in infections in ND (along with Montana, SD, and Wisconsin) is attributable to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, which has been contact traced as Ground Zero for thousands of confirmed cases around the country.
Also, while "cold" weather has not been disproven as contributor to the spread of the coronavirus, data from the Southern Hemisphere would suggest that spread is not much different than during the summer months. The spike in cases theorized by professionals is more due to the confluence of cold and flu season which will cause more people to be tested due to the overlap of symptoms between COVID-19 and other common maladies during the winter months (as was theorized during spring allergy season, but untrue, possibly due to widespread lockdowns during those months). Also, the treatments for COVID-19 are rapidly improving, which is being demonstrated in ICU vacancies around the world and an overall lowering of the mortality of the disease, so these bleak projections offered by some are unlikely to unfold based on the REAL data and science.
I see no reason why California is ignoring the fact that Disney has operated with no problems. I took my wife and three boys to WDW. We wäre both impressed. We even witnessed a couple being escorted out. They had no masks. But not sure if that was the reason. I understand wanting to minimize spread. But the New Case Per Capita <1 per 100,000 I a County the size of OC. It will take them at least late spring if not longer. Hell even here in Washington we are that Draconian by setting a high bar like that. And to limit there capacity when they do. Even after a Vaccine (Might) be available. If Newsom thinks he has a problem now I can see how The Industry will hammer him harder. As far as people who say it’s to save lives. Yes it is. But OVID-19 related lives. Not the lives lost from having your business decimated. Or Mental Health issues. Has California thought about restricting residents of other states with high numbers. New York Does it. It’s as hard for me to swallow the “It Draws people from large geographic areas”. That doesn’t seem to a problem at WDW.
Another issue with California's Tier system I forgot to mention is the nuance of the positive rate allowable. To reach the Yellow Tier, a county/locale must reach a positive rate of <2%. However, even the PCR test has an error rate of @5-10% (well within reasonable scientific standards). That means the rate counties/locales need to attain just to reach the Yellow Tier is within the acceptable error rate of the test. As we've seen around the country, false positives happen A LOT, yet there doesn't appear to be any mechanism within California's Tier system to account for this natural error within the testing methods. Also, while high profile people (athletes, politicians, celebrities) are taking additional tests to determine whether they received a false positive, the GP is more likely to accept a false positive and simply isolate for 2 weeks and then maybe get tested again at that time to demonstrate they are no longer contagious. The reality is that false positives would rarely be confirmed, so those data contribute to the overall rate that will hinder efforts to progress communities to the next tier.
I would guess that Disney et. al. must feel betrayed. After their massive investments in California over the years, and their successes in maintaining a safe environment within their Florida parks, it looks like California is completely ignoring both.
I can't even imagine what this is doing to Orange County, and Anaheim in particular. My God, they'll be reaching third world status soon.
More good news, according to some polls, half of Americans would refuse a vaccine. What on earth do they think is going to get the country out of this mess?? What's their brilliant plan? Just wish it away?
This situation just really sucks all around. I understand the arguments for and against reopening, so I won't have that argument.
But a (furloughed) cast member friend of mine just sent a letter to Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock suggesting that since noncompliance with masks and social distancing is a big thing in Orange County, Disney could help their own situation by doing PSA campaigns explaining the need for restrictions, and that people in the community doing their part to stop the spread will not only save lives, but get the local economy rolling a lot sooner than under current circumstances.
I think it's a great idea. No matter how Disney feels about Newsome's guidelines, they can be part of the solution to get to the yellow tier.
@ Kenny Vee: That's a great, creative idea.
I hope that cast members themselves will also ramp up the drumbeat and start writing the Governor and Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly
Re: Jonah Sirota
Mr. Sirota, I just wanted to thank you for your words, I couldn't agree more with you. I am a long time reader of this site, and love parks more than almost anything, and it is clear that many of the readers of this site are extremely passionate. But this is not the time for theme parks to be open. It's not a time for movie theatres. It's not a time for restaurants. We had a chance for this things to be happening this fall, but we didn't take Covid seriously, and we will continue to pay for it. The fact that WDW and Universal in Orlando are open is ridiculous. If I had 2 week paid trip with a stay at The Grand Floridian, I wouldn't go. (Also, a huge Star Wars fan! Dying to go on Rise of the Resistance!)
It's just not safe. Period. My heart aches for job losses. But your life (or others you may affect) is not worth going to Disneyland for an afternoon.
Again, Mr. Sirota, thanks for your words and level headedness.
For the record I would love it if they would move Disneyland to North Dakota.
I know this is thread isn't about North Dakota, but our mask usage in the state is abysmal. I own a weekly newspaper and cover a nearby school's high school football team. When the team goes on the road, it's nearly impossible to find any parents or fans wearing masks.
I have gone to a number of games, with hundreds of fans lining the stands and sideline fences, and seen fewer than five masks the whole game. That is not hyperbole.
Kenny Vee: well said. Disney is wasting its time being hateful toward a Governor who's just trying to save lives. Instead they should have Iron Man, Elsa, Mickey and Oogie Boogie plastered everywhere reminding people to mask up.
Bottom line: until California's schools can open, and here in the Bay Area they are decidedly CLOSED, don't talk to me about Disneyland. Like my mom used to say, if you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to go outside and play. That applies to us as a culture, too.
@TH When I read it, I just thought, "why didn't I think of that?" I like your add-on as well.
The ultimate goal, for ALL of us I think, is to get the California parks reopened as safely as possible. And if Disney and Universal and Knotts and Six Flags can team up on a marketing campaign promoting safe practices in order to get their respective counties to the Yellow Tier more quickly in order to save not just the parks and their cast/team members, but the local businesses who rely on the parks, that could be a HUGE step in the right direction for everybody.
I join in the chorus, Disney, instead of attacking Newsom, should be doing PSAs on masks and encouraging safety in public. That sounds a lot better than coming off whining and demanding as cooperation works much better than angry threats.
@thecolonel I don't know if Disney will go as far as masking up characters (I think they should, just don't know that they would be willing). I don't always agree with your comments (I usually don't engage, though I think I have in the past), everybody is entitled to their opinion and if I disagree but don't have any information to add (just a different take) I don't try to get into arguments. Most of the time (I have my moments, though).
On this, however, you and I agree. I get Disney's reaction, but it's like responding to any politician with whom one disagrees -- it does little good. But my CM friend's idea is a really good one, and I would love to see the parks team up to get it done. They may be competitors in the industry, but if none of them are open then they are all losing. They can speed things along by working together to get their respective communities on board with stemming the spread of the virus.
@MikeW: Disney is not attacking the Governor. They are defending themselves from overbearing, unrealistic expectations.
Now that this post has gotten 60 comments, can you put up a fun top 10-esque article to cool us all down, Robert? I know I could use one.
"But this is not the time for theme parks to be open. It's not a time for movie theatres. It's not a time for restaurants. We had a chance for this things to be happening this fall, but we didn't take Covid seriously, and we will continue to pay for it."
There is a lot of validity in this statement from thom1414, but that's the point Disney and other theme parks and their employees are trying to make. The State of California has given a clear path for many of those other types of businesses with similar risk profiles to a masked-up/plexi-glassed Disneyland, but it goes to unreasonable extremes to limit theme park operations without any sort of evidence to back it up. The state was supposed to visit other parks around the country to see what they were doing, yet nothing indicative of that "research" is found in these guidelines.
The state will now start allowing tens of thousands of people to attend stadium events (including in a decidedly "indoor" stadium like SoFi) at the Orange Tier, but will not allow even a fraction of a typical crowd to visit Disneyland. Where is the outrage for California at allowing such mass gatherings to occur? As has been documented around the country, even a small gathering of 50-100 people at an indoor space (sometimes even in outdoor spaces) where precautions are not taken, a massive outbreak can occur, yet California continues to send mixed messages as to what is "safe" and what is "risky" behavior.
That is the essence of the problem here, and thecoloniel can praise Governor Newsom all he wants for his stance against allowing theme parks to operate, but until he explicitly explains why 7,500 people visiting Disneyland is drastically less safe than 14,000 people watching a Rams or Chargers game, he's nothing more than your typical hypocritical politician that doesn't know a lick about science nor understands how to protect the health and safety of his constituents.
@thom1414: "But this is not the time for theme parks to be open. It's not a time for movie theatres. It's not a time for restaurants."
Ok, so you think that everything should be closed and everyone should just stay home until this is all over. PERIOD. full stop. A bit extreme, but you're entitled to that view.
Here's the problem: restaurants and theaters are allowed to open. Seems like only theme parks are not. What's the difference?
And it's not as if they want to open up the same as before. They've developed extremely robust covid precautions. Why single out theme parks specifically?
So California should shutter every business then, by your reasoning. Ok, do that and see what happens. But don't just single out theme parks only.
Re: Russell Meyer
I absolutely agree with you Russell, and I forgot to say (empathically)
"This is not the time for Sporting Events".
The hypocrisy in Colleges allowing football games while promoting Covid safety is stomach turning.
You want a World Series? Fine. Have everyone show up with masks in the parking lot and keep your cars parked 16 feet apart. Seemed to work well last night.
@Welcome- Haha it took me 20 minutes just to catch up on all of this.
@Mlke- while I do agree with your comment, I don’t think it would work. The state doesn’t seem to be backing down anytime soon. If Disney tries to educate the public about safety, it might seem like Disney is backing down and the state would think that they can move on; “job finished”. It would make Disney seem that they are complying with the guidelines. But once again, I do agree with you.
@Postcott: Just saying, you catch more flies with honey, working with is a bit better than threatening lawsuits.
Well looks like Robert Niles the Covid Coward got his wish. Feel bad for the thousands who have lost their jobs. The thousands who will lose their job and the hundreds of shuttered businesses. What a joke. Yet the LA zoo is totally safe and open. Robert the Covid Coward.
Can I get permission to violate the TPI TOS to let Fliptasmic know just how much of a useless trouser burp his thoughts are?
"This is not the time for Sporting Events".
Absolutely 100%. Again, unless and until schools can open, unnecessary playtime events like sports and theme parks and movies must remain closed. Put aside your selfish desire for fun and do the right thing to save lives.
Only in America would people insist their right to watch people play with a ball is more important than saving LIVES. Only in America would people insist their right to ride a rollercoaster is more important than saving LIVES.
To all you folks who are critical of the superlative job the California state government has done, I have a suggestion: Go watch sports in Wisconsin. Go to a theme park in Minnesota. Go see a movie in North or South Dakota. They don't require masks there, they aren't serious about locking down, and their infection rates are through the ROOF. Go join with the rest of the idiots who aren't taking this LETHAL disease seriously.
But please, stay out of California where we're doing things RIGHT and controlling the spread.
"Absolutely 100%. Again, unless and until schools can open, unnecessary playtime events like sports and theme parks and movies must remain closed."
OK, then how can you in the same response state that the California State Government has done a "superlative job" when they're letting movie theaters, family entertainment centers, museums, zoos, historical sites, and now stadiums operate? You can't have it both ways when an administration is so blatantly hypocritical in their actions. Unlike stadiums, which have repeatedly been traced to recorded virus transmission, theme parks (particularly ones operated by Disney and Universal) have demonstrated superlative performance in protecting guests against virus transmission.
"But please, stay out of California where we're doing things RIGHT and controlling the spread."
Except based on the State's own published metrics, they ARE NOT doing a great job at controlling spread. Half of the state is still in the RED Tier, just a few have reached the Yellow tier, and not a single jurisdiction can operate restriction free. That's the problem that thecolonel fails to recognize that the metrics established by California are unevenly punishing the citizens of California for actions and conditions that are generally out of their control. At what point do people just throw up their hands and give up trying to reach unattainable goals and a return to normalcy that the state's own health director stated wouldn't be reached even after a vaccine was widely distributed? Why would anyone in California continue to deal with these unscientifically derived controls on their life and leisure when the administration has clearly stated lifting such controls might NEVER happen?
If I lived in California right now, I wouldn't just be looking to vacation in other states where restrictions are not so controlling, I'd be looking to permanently relocate out of a state that doesn't understand how to properly protect the health and safety of its citizens.
Could someone please help thecolonel up off the floor?
Look, I know this is tense but can we keep personal attacks to a minimum? I get it, easy to get fired up, but this is meant to be a nice place free of the usual mud-slinging of other sites so stuff like "Robert the Covid coward" and such is not helping at all.
@MikeW - If anyone needs to rage, they are welcome to slap that smug file off my face ... :o)!
TheColonel has repeatedly shown that he only agrees with impossibly high standards and leftist propaganda. Pay his statements no mind
Would just like to reinforce that Robert the Covid Coward is irresponsible, disrespectful, and behavior like that should not be tolerated. I'm sorry that you have to quarantine under a bride though, that must suck ('cause you're being a troll).
And by the way, I 100% agree with the colonel on being pro-mask, but I also think that the government could make more of an effort to reopen parks while keeping everyone safe.
Blah blah blah - so much wasted air. Go to Florida and visit the parks If you are that deprived - and how long does CA’s unemployment last - 26 weeks plus additional 13, plus additional after that. Disney has other businesses operating with all of its other parks open. The same with Universal - they are hardly on their knees. The virus isn’t going away if CA wants to be super cautious and Florida super careless take your pick and shut up already !
But see Tiptop22, that's the point. Californian's can go to other places around the country/world, which is antithetical to reducing the spread of virus. Officials have repeatedly emphasized that the big theme parks in the state draw guests from outside their home regions (contrary to the parks' own data), yet they would rather residents travel outside the state and potentially contract the virus elsewhere than have local parks open where few outsider would visit and import the virus in the state (with the added protection of requiring parks to limit entry to locals only). The state can't have it both ways, and it's completely hypocritical to support the state's theme park closure while advocating for residents to travel to other states/countries to visit theme parks that are open.
The other point that the parks are trying to make is that the state's guidance is completely hypocritical. Not only are businesses with similar risk profiles and broad interest allowed to operate (some even in the RED Tier), but even when a theme park is allowed to open in the Yellow Tier, they will be restricted far more than identical businesses. As USH Present Karen Irwin stated, once the Yellow Tier is reached and parks can open, indoor restaurants within those parks can only operate at 25% of their posted capacity, but a restaurant just outside of the gates (like at CityWalk) can operate at 50%. The guidance makes absolutely no sense, and doesn't account for any of the health and safety procedures parks have implemented in their operations around the world. Again, the arguments being made to allow California theme parks to operate are because officials are completely hypocritical in their stance, and are deliberately punishing these businesses, their employees, and their guests for no reason while other similar businesses are being allowed to operate (in some cases with little to no restrictions).
It's absolutely true that the virus isn't going anywhere, so why is the State of California making such a concerted effort to prevent these specific businesses from operating, especially when in the same release when they imposed these restrictions they are allowing tens of thousands of fans to attend stadium events?
Yes, most of these theme parks can probably survive given their other operations around the world, but as you point out, unemployment only lasts 26 weeks (with another @13 weeks beyond). Many Disneyland employees have been unemployed for over 6 months now with an expectation that a return to work won't occur for another 8-12 months at the EARLIEST given these new guidelines, meaning the unemployment well will run dry MONTHS before there's even a shimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.
@Russell, I love your point about Californians travelling because they cannot do things locally. I live in Nevada, and there are SO many Californians coming here right now, even though I live in a small-ish rural town (but we have casinos -- which are indoors, with sustained close contact and lots of cigarette smoke in the air despite our efficient ventilation -- which we had to turn off because of smoke from California's fires -- even with 50% capacity and every other slot machine not having a chair to provide social distancing; in other words, riskier places to be than Disneyland or Universal with the restrictions they have put in place). I mean, people can remove their masks to smoke (they're supposed to put it back on between puffs, but some just leave it in their mouth to get around that). Like, the people MOST likely to cough are exempt from the rule? That makes no sense.
And when I'm driving to/from work, I can usually spot the Californians before I see their California license plates. They're the ones driving 35 in a 25mph zone, or even in a 15mph active school zone (they don't know the Sheriff's Deputies in this area as well as I do -- if you're going 28 in a 25 zone and they see it, you're getting pulled over -- the local "speed demons" will push it as high as 27 but even they are taking a chance).
I'm amazed that we haven't had a superspreader event linked to my workplace yet, even though we usually don't have more than 50 guests in the building, compared to 240-something slot machines, a sports book, and keno). I would feel safer visiting Disneyland than I feel going to work every night, even on the graveyard shift where our head counts do get up over 20, but are usually in the single digits after 1:00 or 2:00am. But part of the reason is that I'm CONSTANTLY having to tell people to wear masks, not chinstraps (or wear their face shield over their face, not as a visor). The stubbornness to the mask mandate in this area is off the charts.
Hmm...maybe it's not Californians I should be worried about.
Paris is still open. Far too much weird incrementalism for my taste. Can't be such a big thing to open and close a theme park, or really anything.
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Oh this is going to be a fun discussion of "why is California so different than Florida?"