English Theme Parks May Reopen in April

February 22, 2021, 4:57 PM · Theme parks in England may be able to open as soon as April 12, under orders issued by the British government today.

The government announced a four-step reopening process, which will be dependent upon continued progress in the nation's vaccination program and no surge in Covid-19 infection rates. Under the plan, theme parks would be allowed to reopen in the second step, now targeted for April 12. However, indoor dining and hotels would remain closed until step three, now targeted for May 17. The final step - the lifting of all limits on social contact - would come June 21.

English theme parks took to social media to let fans know that they were working on reopening plans.

With more than seven weeks between now and parks' possible opening date, there remains plenty of time for the situation to turn in the United Kingdom, especially with Covid-19 variants popping up around the country and the world. So, as with everything during this pandemic, it's best to look at future dates as goals rather than certainties. The UK recorded 1,144 Covid cases per million people last week, compared with 1,480 cases per million in the United States. However, the UK's death rate was higher, 50.4 deaths per million, compared with 39.6 per million in the US.

Legoland Windsor was the most visited theme park in the United Kingdom in 2019, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report. The park drew 2.43 million visitors, beating 2.13 million for Alton Towers, 1.9 million for Thorpe Park, and 1.69 million for Chessington World of Adventures. (The TEA report does not track Blackpool Pleasure Beach, or other pay-per-ride parks.)

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Replies (10)

February 22, 2021 at 5:41 PM

Have to say, the lifting of all social distancing (and presumedly, masks), sounds VERY optimistic. Of course I hope it happens for many reasons, but they’re basically saying that normal life will be back again, in just 4 months. Is that really achievable, in that amount of time?

February 22, 2021 at 6:27 PM

Just like Boris' Brexit projections, I would assume.

Like I said, I am firmly in "I will believe it two or three days after I see it happen" mode right now.

February 23, 2021 at 3:25 PM

Robert, that’s where I am too. Most of us in the U.K. have learnt to take anything he says, with a huge pinch of salt, even though there’s a general sense of real ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ relief, at the moment. I want to be optimistic, but 4 months between full lockdown and normal life, seems rather short. Having said that, they are doing a very good job with the vaccine rollout. If they can keep it up, then who knows?

February 23, 2021 at 12:31 PM

The Scottish government today has refused to give dates beyond a goal of starting to removing some restrictions in late April, saying giving projected dates beyond that is pointless as it depends What happens with cases/vaccinations. That sounds about right to me.

February 23, 2021 at 1:30 PM

I agree Chad that giving specific dates for removing or reducing restrictions is counter-productive. However, officials should at least provide goals and supporting data that need to be attained to remove restrictions. It doesn’t do any good to have restrictions in place if people don’t understand what they’re trying to achieve and to hold officials to account when those metrics are reached, but restrictions are kept in place.

Yes, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and officials don’t want to fling open the doors and risk undoing all of the hard work that’s been done so far. However, people need to know what it will take to get back to normal, and to ensure officials are true to their word when they establish an endgame.

February 24, 2021 at 6:47 AM

Just to be clear, the dates are only provisional and that has been made clear. They are also very cautious- much more so than some other countries are currently doing. Much more cautious than boris has been previously lol. All said, when you are running a business (a visitor attraction) like myself, you do need some idea, some goals for planning. So there HAS to be some sort of roadmap.

The uk, whilst far from getting the handling of the pandemic right in 2020, is now, aside from israel and the UAE, way ahead in the world with the vaccination program ( about 40% of adults, or 26% of total population, so far). cases are just now starting to fall very rapidly after a major peak in January (which mainland europe had to an extent in Oct/Nov), there is light at the end of the tunnel. If we can’t assume that cases will be at very manageable levels in 4 months time then surely we are doomed and there is no hope. If all higher risk adults (over 50) are vaccinated by April and all adults by July as planned (which it looks like the Uk may achieve looking at its current pace) then if we can’t hope for some normalisation by late June are we assuming the vaccine won’t work and that’s pretty much the end of life as we know it - or what are our options?

So I do think in a country so far along with vaccinations, it is reasonable to be optimistic for maybe at least 80% normality by June. The government has not said no masks, they have said a level of social distancing and restricted numbers at venues and masks may well remain, all they are saying is that they hope everything will essentially be open and running by late June. They have also clearly acknowledged that covid will not, of course, be eliminated and it will be all about living with it at greatly reduced manageable levels. So maybe 90% normal is the best we can hope for in the next few years

February 24, 2021 at 1:20 PM

While I do agree that setting dates for all of the phases is a bit arbitrary, I do think we're at the point where a general timeline needs to be established for recovery assuming improving trends hold. It's been nearly a year since COVID was declared a pandemic, and we're at the point where we need to learn to transition into a post-pandemic world rather than continuing in an indefinite holding pattern. We've got a vaccine, and either that will work well enough to enable a return to semi-normal by summer, or it won't work and society as a whole will either change drastically forever or just assume the risk and go back to how things were (I'd bet on the latter). Either way, we can't keep up with this "the numbers must be x, y, and z" nonsense, especially when some numbers put out there are statistically improbable in the near term even with a massive proportion of the population vaccinated. Plus, like Mike said, businesses need timelines, and with many strongly considering legal action and/or permanent closure if the uncertainty continues, it'd be a lot more reasonable to tell them "you can't open for three months, but unless things change you can open at that time" than to say "you might be eligible to open next month, but it could also be next year" like we've been doing.

Personally, I feel that once a vaccine is in unrestricted distribution, any lingering government restrictions should be lifted and individuals/businesses free to make whatever choices they consider safe. At the absolute minimum, any lingering restrictions need to be tied directly to vaccinations with hard numbers as to when they will be lifted. Not doing so would be a huge breach of trust IMO, and could potentially spark an uprising after the questionable manner in which many officials handled the pandemic.

February 24, 2021 at 8:38 AM

@AJ Hummel “society as a whole will either change drastically forever or just assume the risk and go back to how things were (I'd bet on the former)”. Do you really think that, if the vaccines don’t work, people will accept and live with these lockdown restrictions for the rest of their lives?

February 24, 2021 at 1:26 PM

Wow, looks like I made a typo. Thanks for spotting it, 80sMan. No, I think if the vaccine doesn't work, not only will there be little willingness to adopt the "new normal" as permanent, but there will be almost no chance of compliance should those sort of measures be necessary in the future. Though I suppose if it leads to general lawlessness as the norm (at least when it comes to public health), that could qualify as a drastic societal change.

February 25, 2021 at 9:10 AM

No worries, AJ. Thanks for clarifying, and I think you’re right. People, on the whole, are already dangerously close to “enough is enough”. We’ve been given this very real ‘carrot’ with the vaccine rollout and proposed dates that the government is aiming for. Johnson has said that this will be the last lockdown, so if he goes back on that, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes!

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