Children pay games at the Santa Beach Boardwalk in pre-pandemic times.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
COVID Economy

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Disneyland, outdoor stadiums get green light to start reopening in April

State officials announced Friday that outdoor sports and live performance venues, as well as amusement parks, will be allowed to begin reopening on April 1 — with restrictions. Boardwalk officials aren’t sure of plans just yet.

Californians holding out hope for spring baseball games, summer trips to Disneyland and outdoor concerts in the park are in luck. State officials today announced that outdoor sports and live performance venues, as well as amusement parks, will be allowed to begin reopening on April 1 — with restrictions.

That is, if counties proceed through the state’s four-stage, color-coded reopening tiers as hoped with increasing vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 infections. And if would-be outdoor audience members are quick on the draw, since strict capacity limits and reservation requirements will be in effect.

“We feel like this is a good time to begin to provide additional visibility into how we can move forward opening parts of the economy,” said Dee Dee Myers, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top economic adviser, during a press conference. “This gives some of those bigger employers a chance to ramp up, to get ready for April 1.”

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For Disneyland and other amusement parks to start reopening next month, they’ll need to make it into the state’s second-most-restrictive red tier. As it stands, Disney’s home, Orange County, just barely remains in the strictest purple tier. The state made that leap slightly easier to achieve this week, when it eased requirements for counties to advance out of the strictest purple tier after vaccinations in low-income neighborhoods hit levels the state is expected to reach in about two weeks.

Likewise, Santa Cruz County is expected to return to the red tier next week. But the Boardwalk will take a wait-and-see approach to opening in limited capacity by April 1, as spokesperson Kris Reyes detailed in the following statement to Lookout:

“We are encouraged by the State’s revised framework that will allow amusement parks to open rides and attractions in a safe manner for employees and guests. We need time to review the revised guidelines and understand how they impact our ability to reopen our rides and attractions. We do not have a timetable available at this moment.”

With the new changes announced today, outdoor events will be limited to 100 people or less in the purple tier, 20% capacity with reserved seating and no concessions in the red tier, 33% capacity in the orange tier and 67% capacity in the yellow tier. Amusement parks will be permitted to operate at 15% capacity in the red tier, 25% in orange and 35% in yellow. Attendance at these expanded outdoor activities will be limited to in-state visitors.

At Disneyland, which has a reported capacity around 85,000 people, operating at the reduced 15% capacity would translate to welcoming about 12,750 guests. The park and its local affiliates employ about 32,000 people, most of whom have been furloughed since last spring. Like other service sector workers and those dependent on live events, some Disney personnel have experienced extreme financial difficulties in dealing with the state’s beleaguered unemployment system.

As vaccination and infection rates change in the coming weeks, Myers said the state will consider how to adapt “much more difficult” guidance for indoor businesses. Officials are also evaluating ways for employers to help get their workers vaccinated.

Earlier this week, Newsom teased the news for fans of California’s five Major League Baseball teams: the Oakland Athletics, the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, the Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers. While some Bay Area counties have already proceeded into the less-restrictive red tier that would allow for more fan attendance, most of hard-hit Southern California remains under the state’s strictest shutdown orders after a severe winter virus surge.

Contributing: Patrick Riley, Lookout Santa Cruz