SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) A popular amusement park in Santa Cruz could be reopening in the near future after state officials announced new COVID-19 guidance on Friday for amusement parks and outdoor stadiums to reopen with limitations.
Health officials said the state can make these adjustments after learning more about the transmission of the coronavirus and how it behaves.
Starting on April 1, amusement parks, stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen with certain restrictions. Only California residents will be allowed to visit these businesses.
For restaurants down the street like Beach Street Pizza and Bar, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is sort of like a life blood for business.
"When the Boardwalk closed last year, again, we lost over 50 percent probably of our business, of the foot traffic that comes through here on Beach Street. We were struggling to survive," said Steve Mendoza, the owner of Beach Street Pizza and Bar.
There were still plenty of people out around the Boardwalk for a Friday night, but for inns and retail shops, it is a fraction of what it could be.
The Boardwalk's closure for most of last year meant fewer tourists to buy, eat and stay in the area. Now, the Governor's Office says with increased vaccine distribution and dropping COVID-19 case numbers, more sectors of the economy can be reopened.
It is good news for the Boardwalk.
“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," said Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes in a statement provided through email.
"With the news of the Boardwalk reopening, we're excited about it. And we hope to regain some of the lost revenue and we hope to survive the summer and stay open," said Mendoza.
Amusement parks in the Purple Tier counties will still need to remain closed. But Red Tier counties can open their parks up at 15 percent capacity, while indoor dining on site must stay closed. Orange and Yellow Tier counties can increase capacity to 25 and 35 percent respectively.
There are different rules for outdoor sporting events, including advanced registration. Some residents in Santa Cruz, however, are hoping reopening does not lead back to worse times.
"It's nice to have things get back to normal. I'm not sure it's quite the right time with all.. I'm a little cautious about.. I think we still have to nip the thing in the bud before with the newest variants coming out and stuff like that," said John Welch, a Santa Cruz resident.
PREVIOUS ARTICLE: State officials announced Friday that they are updating guidance in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and it will allow some businesses, such as amusement parks and outdoor stadiums, to reopen with limitations.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said that as we learn more about the transmission of COVID-19 and how it behaves, the state can make adjustments to allow the return of some activities.
Dee Dee Myers with the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development added that with increased vaccine distribution and the measures that have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus, now seems to be a good time to provide information about opening some sectors of the economy.
Starting on April 1, amusement parks, stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen with limitations. Only California residents will be allowed to visit these businesses.
Amusement parks will no longer be divided based on size, so parks like Disneyland would be included in the guidance. They will need to remain closed if they are located in a purple tier county, but in the red tier, they can operate at 15% capacity. Indoor dining at parks will still be closed in the red tier. When counties move into the orange tier, amusement parks can increase capacity to 25%, and capacity can increase to 35% in the yellow tier.
Outdoor sporting events will also be allowed to resume on April 1. Counties in the purple tier can allow for 100 people are fewer with advanced registration and no concessions. When counties get to the red tier, capacity can increase to 20% and concessions may be offered primarily in-seat. Capacity will increase to 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier.
To make sure that only California residents are in attendance, advanced registration will be done online.
Read the updated guidance below.