California making ‘a lot of progress’ on reopening theme parks, but Gov. Newsom isn’t ready to say when

California is making “a lot of progress” toward reopening Disneyland and other theme parks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

Still, Newsom said in a news conference, “we still have work to do” to establish guidelines that would allow the parks to reopen for the first time since they shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re still working on some details,” he said, without offering any specifics.

State officials have not allowed theme parks to reopen because of a spike in coronavirus cases. California has more cases than any other state, and as of Thursday, they totaled nearly than 707,800, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Golden State also had the most new cases in the past week, with more than 34,700 reported.

Orange County, where Disneyland is located, was removed late last month from a list of counties on California’s monitoring list for the coronavirus. Still, theme parks cannot reopen under current criteria.

Disney officials have said they’re ready to reopen the park as soon as the state gives them the go-ahead.

“As soon as a date and those guidelines are set, I can tell you, we’re ready,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s parks, products and experiences unit, told Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association trade group, last week. 

California’s other theme parks are waiting for the same guidance, including Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland California and Knott’s Berry Farm. 

Under state guidance, aquariums, museums and zoos can open with modifications as long as they keep attendance for indoor activities to 25% capacity. That paved the way for SeaWorld San Diego to reopen last week. Legoland California’s aquarium is set to reopen Friday, though the theme park remains closed.

Across the country in Florida, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Studios Orlando have been open since June. Walt Disney World reopened its four parks by mid-July. Disney World’s reopening proceeded despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the state, though no reported outbreaks have been traced to those parks.

And three months after a Change.org petition and labor groups called for Disneyland to scrub its planned July 17 reopening, another petition is underway. This time, it is pushing for the Anaheim park to reopen, and its park employees are leading the charge.

“If we reopen here in California, the reality is that there will be strict attendance limits and social distancing measures like in Florida,” the petition’s creator, Jose Martinez, said in an open letter to Newsom. “If theme parks and businesses can operate responsibly, and demonstrate a strong focus on protecting their employees and guests, they should be allowed to operate.”

The bottom line for Martinez and his co-workers? “We Cast Members don’t just want to work, we NEED to.”

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