SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Zoo and Safari Park hope to reopen "in the coming weeks" now that California has released guidance for zoos to open their gates starting Friday.
Last week, the state released guidance for county's approved for accelerated reopenings to open businesses like zoos, family entertainment centers, gyms, bars and wineries, and more starting June 12.
(The state's criteria for sectors can be found here.)
In a statement to 10News, the zoo said staff are reviewing the state's guidance to plan how to best reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic:
"We are delighted to receive word from the Governor letting us know that the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will be able to open this month. We can’t wait to invite our community back to the zoo and park in the coming weeks. We have just received information from the State regarding the requirements and guidelines for us to re-open and are reviewing this document so we can determine next steps to open safely and responsibly for our community. We will take the next couple of days to determine our timeline for opening and expect to have information to share early next week."
In May, representatives from several other local theme parks, including Legoland California, SeaWorld, and the USS Midway Museum, met with county officials to discuss reopening. In a joint statement, the parks said they plan to reopen on July 1:
"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. 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."
SeaWorld sent an email to passholders last week detailing their safe reopening plans, which includes reservation-based visitors only, social distancing, temperature checks for employees and guests, and sanitation protocols throughout the park.
Epidemiologist and National University professor Dr. Tyler Smith told 10News reporter Jared Aarons that close-contact areas in parks could still be a threat for spreading the coronavirus.
"Everybody's touching them, every 90 seconds," said Smith. "Even if you have disinfectant, it doesn't mean that it necessarily is not going to end up on that ride for the next person. Maybe they can just focus on areas that it's just watching. Watching a show, viewing an animal. I think that could pretty well reduce the transmission."
He added that he believes San Diego County is in a good place — in terms of case numbers — to reopen attractions as long as rules are followed.