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California to reopen stadiums and theme parks

California has cleared a path for fans to hit the stands at opening-day baseball games and return to Disneyland

Don’t get too excited. Like most things in California’s version of pandemic, there are many caveats on the way to the April 1 reopening. For example, most of the counties that host these venues are still in the purple tier when they need to be in the red tier (which inexplicably is better than the purple tier). Forget everything you thought you knew about “red”. When it comes to California COVID tiers–red is better.

According to data released Tuesday by the state, L.A. and Orange counties recorded adjusted coronavirus case rates low enough to exit the strictest purple tier of California’s four-rung reopening roadmap. However–there is now a new gate for exiting tiers based on how quickly vaccines can be administered to residents in the state’s most disadvantaged areas. In the added tier criteria, once California has given 2 million doses in targeted communities, the state will allow counties to move from purple to the more permissive red tier.

The most hopeful reaction today came from Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek who saiid in a shareholders meeting this morning that he hopes the theme parks at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim can open “by late April.” An exact date will be announced later, Chapek added, saying that Disneyland needs to recall and train about 10,000 workers.

Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain have been closed for almost a year. The theme parks have pushed Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow them to reopen.

For parks in counties in the red tier, capacity will be limited to 15%, rising to 25% once a county progresses to orange, and 35% upon reaching the most lenient tier, yellow. In all cases, park capacities will be limited, and COVID-19 safety rules such as mask-wearing requirements will apply.

Officials said theme park attendance will be limited to in-state visitors. Other restrictions will include no indoor dining and limits on indoor rides.

The state on Friday also relaxed guidelines for reopening other outdoor venues as a fall and winter surge seemed to be ending, with COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting and vaccination rates rising.

New public health rules would allow live concerts at stadiums and sports arenas to reopen with limited attendance April 1. Outdoor sports will be limited to 100 people in the purple tier but will increase up to 67% in the yellow tier.

The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all announced they will have fans in the stands for opening day April 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants both start their seasons on the road and said they would announce their plans later.

Teams and event organizers can only sell tickets regionally in the purple tier. In the other tiers, teams and organizers can sell tickets to anyone living in California. No concessions will be allowed in the purple tier, while in others, concession sales will only be available at seats.

The move followed a week of milestones, with California ramping up vaccinations for the poorest neighborhoods, counties reopening more businesses and Gov. Gavin Newsom passing a measure aimed at encouraging schools that have restricted students to online learning to reopen classrooms this month.

Ultimately the state is pinning its hopes of a full reopening on inoculating enough of its 40 million residents to halt widespread COVID-19 infections.

More than 10 million doses had been given only three months since the first shot was given, the Department of Public Health said.

Just over 3 million people have been fully vaccinated, or about 10% of the population 16 and older.

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