Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say which attractions were represented in Wednesday’s meeting with county officials.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Representatives from SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, the U.S.S. Midway Museum and other large tourist attractions had a phone meeting with San Diego County officials Wednesday to seek permission to reopen by July 1, as the county reported 101 new COVID-19 cases and a half-dozen more deaths.
Wednesday’s numbers raise the cumulative totals to 6,983 cases and 255 deaths.
The theme parks are taking steps to open for Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage plan, and while the meeting with county officials was private, the parks announced they have moved onto an official reopening request with the state.
“LEGOLAND California Resort, The USS Midway Museum and SeaWorld San Diego reviewed its collective re-opening safety plan with county of San Diego officials today,” a joint statement from the parks said. “While the attractions will all be ready to reopen on July 1 if authorized, the plan now moves on to state officials for additional review and guidance. As the San Diego attraction coalition, we were greatly appreciative to county staff for the opportunity to present our reopening plan to them today.”
That plan calls for temperature and wellness checks for employees, masks for everyone entering the parks, reduced capacity inside the parks, plastic shields at food stations, a six-foot separation for entry and ride lines and regularly disinfecting common touchpoints.
The parks said Tuesday they would present county officials with these plans to reopen and ask for feedback.
David Koontz, spokesman for the Midway Museum, said the call “went very well,” but did not offer any additional information.
All of the theme parks shut down mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a largely uneventful Memorial Day weekend, county Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher said houses of worship could open Wednesday and hair salons and barber shops could open as soon as they complete the county’s reopening plan, post it publicly and give copies to employees.
Under the guidelines, places of worship must limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or 100 attendees, whichever total is smaller. This limitation will be in effect for the first 21 days of each county public health department’s approval of religious services within their jurisdictions, after which the California Department of Public Health will review the limits.
They must also arrange for social distancing of at least six feet between people, establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance. Other local restrictions include no singing, no touching and no passing of items.
Cox gave an example of priests giving out pre-packaged communion wafers to parishioners rather than placing it on their tongues.
“This will allow everyone to practice their faith while staying safe,” he said.
Churches and other houses of worship were ordered closed to the public on March 19. Since then, many have adjusted by holding virtual services, while a few recently resumed in-person services in violation of the order.
Hair salons and barber shops are permitted to open as soon as ready, but only for services which can be completed while a customer keeps their mask on the entire time, meaning eyebrow threading, eyelash work and face shaves remain prohibited.
All employees must have their temperatures checked at the beginning and end of their shifts, the same as other essential and nonessential businesses open in the county. All businesses must provide face masks for all employees and customers — who are welcome to bring masks from home.
Nail salons are absent from the state and county’s guideline, but Newsom suggested Tuesday that they might be in the next wave of modified reopenings.
Additionally, Fletcher said one-on-one sports training would now be permitted, so long as the instructor and student could maintain social distancing. This will allow for golf and tennis, as well as individual soccer, baseball, volleyball and other coaching sessions.
The number of cumulative reported tests rose by 3,021 to more than 143,000. The 101 latest cases represent 3% of the total tests, dropping the county’s rolling 14-day average to 3.1%.
San Diego County’s public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, said Tuesday the data showed “it appears we may have peaked.” She said the next 21 days would represent another litmus test for the county’s handle on the illness, with reopenings Wednesday and a several weeks-long incubation period for the illness to follow.