Amusement parks, indoor family entertainment centers and summer camps, including overnight, will be allowed to reopen for business in the state this spring and summer at limited capacity, officials said.
Indoor family entertainment centers can reopen at 25% capacity starting March 26, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday during a COVID-19 briefing held via conference call.
“The only information we have is that starting on April 9 that outdoor theme parks and waterparks can open at 33% capacity,” said Ed Kerrigan, owner of Zoom Flume Water Park in East Durham. “As far as our plans go, we do still plan on opening this year. Thirty-three percent capacity is pretty small. I don’t know if that’s going to work for us, but that may change before our opening date in mid-June.”
Water parks in New York state were not permitted to open at all last year because of COVID. Kerrigan said he has been in contact with other water parks in states where they could open and many of them were successful opening and following their government’s COVID guidelines.
“Obviously, you cant wear a mask in a pool or on a water slide, that’s a real health hazard, so you can’t do that,” said Kerrigan. “But you still have to wear a mask while you’re sitting, while you’re walking from one part of the park to another.”
Kerrigan said that at opening at 33% capacity, the park would not be profitable.
“There is some question as to what capacity is,” said Kerrigan. “There’s been no direction from the state as to what capacity means. If its 33% of our normal business then it would not be profitable, we would move along as if we’re going to open and hope that the 33% increases. it just doesn’t seem fair the 33% occupancy rate at this time. If you go a Walmart or a shopping center they’re all at more then 33%, and that’s indoors, our park is outdoors with plenty of ventilation. So it makes no sense to be at only 33% capacity.”
Visitors will be required to wear face coverings at all times, remain a socially distanced 6 feet apart from others and pass temperature checks. Rides, attractions and facilities will be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
The state Health Department will imminently release guidelines for businesses to safely reopen amid the pandemic and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. All facilities must submit reopening plans and health protocols to their local health departments.
“With continued decreases in the infection and hospitalization rates, we have been able to take steps toward beginning our post-COVID recovery and we are excited to now be in a place where we can bring back our recreational industries with safety protocols in place,” Cuomo said. “As we’ve said time and time again, our success will be dictated by our actions and as long as we stay united and keep carrying this momentum forward in a positive direction, we will be able to see more and more sectors of our economy reopen.”
Outdoor amusement parks can start to reopen April 9 at 33% capacity with similar face mask, social distancing and cleaning requirements.
Tickets will be sold in advance. Park staff must stagger patrons as they enter or exit to avoid congestion.
“The decision to allow reopening of indoor and outdoor amusement parks this spring is welcome progress,” Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy said in a statement Wednesday. Duffy also leads the Finger Lakes Region COVID-19 Control Room.
“Last year, Seabreeze, a local treasure, was not able to open their doors to guests, but the bills never stopped. For them and many others in our region, this decision provides much needed relief. This move is one more sign that we are slowly returning to normalcy. Greater Rochester Chamber commends the Governor and his team for putting forth guidelines to allow this reopening.”
Statewide summer camps, including overnight camps, can plan on reopening this year. The Health Department will release guidance in the coming weeks.
“That doesn’t happen until June, and we hope the current trajectory stays until June, one eye on these variants of interest, but they can plan on reopening,” Cuomo said. “They’re going to have to have a testing protocol, but by the way, no parent is going to send their child to a summer camp unless there’s a testing protocol anyway.”
Each party must provide contact information to be used by contact tracers, if necessary.
Frequently touched or trafficked areas must be regularly cleaned and disinfected, or will be forced to close.
Indoor areas must meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards, and retail, food services and recreational activities must abide by all state-issued guidance, according to the governor’s office.