California to let Major League Baseball, Disneyland reopen

Author: ADAM BEAM and KATHLEEN RONAYNE/ Associated Press
Published: Updated:
Motorists line up at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Major League Baseball teams in California can welcome a limited number of fans back to ballparks on April 1 under new state rules announced Friday that will also let Disneyland and other theme parks reopen for the first time in more than a year.

The changes allow people to attend other outdoor sporting events and live performances in limited numbers that go into effect on baseball’s opening day, when the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s all have home games. The A’s confirmed they will have fans in the stands.

Disneyland officials did not say when the park would reopen. But when it does, only people who live in California can buy tickets. The same goes for MLB games and outdoor performances, as public health officials try to limit mixing while continuing to roll out coronavirus vaccinations.

Indoor events such as NBA games and concerts are not included in the new rules announced by the adminstration of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The state is acting because the rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are declining while the number of people receiving vaccines is increasing, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top public health official.

“Today’s announcement is focused on building in some of the compelling science about how the virus behaves, and how activities when done a certain way can reduce risk,” Ghaly said.

California divides its counties into four color-coded tiers based on the spread of the virus. The purple tier is the most restrictive, followed by red, orange and yellow. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in.

Outdoor sports are limited to 100 people in the purple tier. The limits increase to 20% capacity in the red tier, 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier.

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.

Enforcing the rules will be left to venues. Ghaly and Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said organizers will have to sell tickets in advance and can cross-check to confirm hometowns to help with contact tracing if needed.

Myers acknowledged that some people will try to beat the system, but she said officials hope people will respect the guidelines.

The Oakland A’s announced rules that give a glimpse of what life will be like for fans during the pandemic. They will be seated in pods of two or four seats, and tickets will only be available on the MLB Ballpark app.

Fans can order concessions on their phones and have them delivered to their seats. No tailgating is allowed, and teams will not accept cash inside the stadium. People who don’t have debit cards can purchase one with cash at a limited number of locations inside the venue.

“We are excited to safely welcome fans back to our ballpark for the upcoming season,” A’s President Dave Kaval said.

Theme parks can open in the red tier at 15% capacity and boost attendance limits as virus rates decrease. Again, only people who live in California can buy tickets. Indoor rides at outdoor parks will be allowed because they are typically short and can allow for proper spacing.

“We can’t wait to welcome guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement.

Disneyland employees have been furloughed or out of a job for nearly a year. Andrea Zinder, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents Disney workers, said employees are “excited to go back to work and provide Californians with a bit more magic in their lives.”

Disney fan Kenny King Jr. said he became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago and typically takes his family there five times a year.

King, 38, and his family, who live in Pleasant Hill, last went to Disneyland in February 2020 for his birthday. He’s excited to return with his 8-year-old daughter, who had just started enjoying rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, and to take his 2-year-old son, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds when he went to the park last year.

“We’ll sit there at the house sometimes and we’ll be like man, I just miss Disneyland,” King said.

He said he’s confident Disney will take appropriate safety measures. “They’ve had plenty of time to game plan on that,” he said.

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