California theme parks, outdoor stadiums to start reopening in April

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — Theme parks, live sporting events and performances will start reopening to the public outdoors in California, state officials announced Friday.

Ballparks and stadiums can open outdoors for performances and games beginning April 1 with capacity restrictions, mandatory masking, and other safety modifications, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement updating the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy focused on outdoor activities.

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Theme parks can also reopen April 1 with precautions, but only for counties in the state’s red tier for COVID-19 restrictions.

Changes to the Blueprint include:

  • Outdoor sports and live performances (with fans/attendees) can begin April 1.
    • In the Purple tier, capacity will be limited to 100 people or fewer and attendance will be limited to regional visitors. Advanced reservations will be requited, and no concession or concourse sales will be allowed.
    • In the Red tier, capacity will be limited to 20%. Concession sales will be primarily in-seat.
    • In the Orange tier, capacity will be limited to 33%. In the Yellow tier, capacity will increase to 67%.
    • Attendance will be limited to in-state visitors in the Red, Orange and Yellow tiers.
  • Amusement parks can reopen in the Red tier beginning April 1.
    • In the Red tier, capacity will be limited to 15%.
    • In the Orange tier, capacity will be limited to 25%.
    • In the Yellow tier, capacity will be limited to 35%
    • Attendance will be limited to in-state visitors.

The major announcement comes after the state said it is focusing on vaccinating millions of Californians in the most vulnerable communities, and that once this happens, even more parts of the economy can reopen.

“With case rates and hospitalizations significantly lower, the arrival of three highly effective vaccines and targeted efforts aimed at vaccinating the most vulnerable communities, California can begin gradually and safely bringing back more activities, especially those that occur outdoors and where consistent masking is possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “Even with these changes, California retains some of the most robust public health protocols in the country.”

You can view the CDPH’s updated sector chart to see which activities and businesses are allowed in each tier.

California’s coronavirus situation has improved greatly. The rate of people testing positive for the infection has fallen to 2.1% in the last week, the lowest level of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations that topped out at nearly 22,000 in early January are down to 4,500 now and projected to fall below 500 statewide by early April, according to state models. Similarly, models predict just 125 ICU patients in a month’s time.

The models show deaths, which lag other indicators, continuing to flatten, but still another 4,800 people are projected to lose their lives by month’s end. More than 53,000 people have already died, the largest total in the country.

By focusing 40% of the state’s vaccine supply on the most vulnerable neighborhoods, state officials are hoping to further limit hospitalizations and deaths and allow the state to slowly move back toward a less restricted economy.

San Francisco and several other Bay Area counties already are in the less restrictive “red tier” where some businesses can reopen for indoor services.

The new metrics will make it easier for major Southern California counties like Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego to loosen restrictions. 

California lawmakers on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion plan aimed at pressuring school districts to return students to the classroom before the end of the school year.

The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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