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Two California state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would allow major theme parks in Southern California to reopen faster than they would according to the rules in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Assembly members Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Buena Park, and Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, seek to co-sponsor AB 420, which would place all major theme parks in tier 3 (orange), or moderate, of the state’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Amusement Parks and Theme Parks. Gov. Newsom previously placed the major theme parks in tier 4 (yellow), or minimal. Theme park officials collectively called that move “unworkable.”
Since last summer, Southern California’s major theme park owners have been locked in a bitter battle with Newsom as they have pushed to be allowed to reopen. Disney, which has been the most vocal, pointed to its operations in Florida, which have not been linked to a single case of COVID-19 since its parks were reopened in July. “I think we’ve proven to all the world — and in this country — we have robust policies that protect staff and guests,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said last October.
And yet, Newsom has not budged.
Erin Guerrero, executive director of the California Attractions and Parks Association, praised the proposed legislation. CAPA represents Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California, among others.
“Worldwide, theme parks have proven they can reopen responsibly while protecting the health of guests and staff,” she said in a statement. “Nearly a year after parks closed in response to the pandemic, tens of thousands of employees remain out of work, while local businesses, communities surrounding theme parks, and local governments face ongoing negative consequences.”
Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood both shuttered last March. Over the summer, they reopened their respective shopping and outdoor dining districts. Still, fans (and park officials) have been clamoring for the rides to be turned back on.
Guerrero points to cases decreasing in the state while vaccination distribution continues as reasons in favor of the parks being placed in a less restrictive tier.
“California’s iconic theme parks are important economic drivers for the state and local regions,” she said. “AB 420 is needed so theme parks can plan to reopen responsibly and get back to contributing to the economic recovery of our state.”
In October, the theme parks banded together and floated the idea of a lawsuit in order to move tiers.
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