SeaWorld opens to out-of-state visitors as other California parks say not so fast

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In a break from other Southern California theme parks, SeaWorld this week decided to open its doors to out-of-state visitors who are vaccinated, saying this is now allowed under the news. state COVID-19 guidelines.

Meanwhile, Legoland is restricting visits to California residents, as are Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, whose representatives on Wednesday said they only allow visitors to the state, based on their current reading of the guidelines.

Theme parks were plunged into a state of confusion this week when California public health officials quietly updated their statewide reopening plan, inserting an addendum noting that “people fully Vaccinees from out of state may visit or attend limited activities or events within the state. visitors. ”However, the color-coded chart indications still indicate that for the least restrictive orange and yellow tier theme parks,“ state visitors only .

Hence the confusion. But a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said Wednesday afternoon that SeaWorld’s interpretation was correct.

The department had officially announced no changes to its theme park guidelines this week. However, in an e-mail he sent on Wednesday in response to questions from the Union-Tribune on whether his addendum applied to theme parks, a spokesperson for the department clarified that “the addendum to the Blueprint Grid allows fully vaccinated people from out of state to participate in activities restricted to visitors to the state, including theme parks.

To be fully vaccinated, a person must wait two weeks after their last injection – their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or their one and only Johnson & Johnson dose.

The California Amusement Parks and Attractions business group, initially caught off guard Tuesday by SeaWorld’s decision to allow out-of-state guests, was not aware of any major changes in theme park guidelines . He released a statement on Wednesday confirming that the new COVID-19 reopening rule addendum allows fully vaccinated people from out of state to visit California theme parks.

“As vaccinations become more widespread and state guidelines evolve, individual parks may update their own responsible reopening plans in accordance with state and local public health regulations,” the association said.

Universal Studios Hollywood spokeswoman Audrey Eig presented a slightly revised statement based on the state addendum and comments made by the theme park association.

“While our theme park tour is currently only available to California residents, we are evaluating next steps to implement changes to previously published guidelines and will share updated information when available,” she declared.

Disney issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that “Until further notice, only residents of the state of California are permitted to visit Disneyland Resort theme parks.”

Since the state announced last month it was speeding up the authorized reopening of theme parks, parks in Southern California have started to prepare for their long-awaited return to business – albeit with capacity limits. 25% in the orange level and 35% in yellow.

Legoland initially reopened for pass holders on April 1 – the first day California theme parks were allowed to resume operations after being closed for more than a year due to the pandemic. Universal Studios Hollywood opened on April 15 for pass holders and April 16 for all other California visitors. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park are scheduled to open on April 30.

SeaWorld, which has been open since early February under separate and more relaxed state guidelines for zoos, reopened its rides on April 12. On Monday, he noted on his website that he was making a change for visitors from outside California, stating: – Visitors to the state will be required to show proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccine or negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of visiting the park (mandatory for guests 3 years of age and older). Guests may also be asked to show proof of residence upon entry.

That verbiage, however, changed on Wednesday when SeaWorld removed the reference to allowing out-of-state visitors with a negative COVID-19 test. SeaWorld San Diego spokeswoman Tracy Spahr said the change was made to eliminate confusion. “We have updated our website to match the language of the addendum for consistency and clarity,” she said.

Todd Regan, who operates the theme park’s fan site, MiceChat, said he suspected the state’s decision not to draw attention to the new guidelines was deliberate and was made in the best interests of security.

“The addendum appears to have been slipped under the radar and without further clarification, leaving the parks to decide for themselves whether this applies to them or not,” he said. “I have the impression that this was done intentionally to avoid an influx of visitors. Theme parks seem to be grateful that the state allows them to finally reopen, so they’re doing their best to comply with all guidelines, so further easing of restrictions will come sooner. “

Weisberg is a reporter for the Union-Tribune and Martin writes for the Los Angeles Times.


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