LOS ANGELES: California health officials on Friday (Mar 5) gave Walt Disney Co's Disneyland and other theme parks the go-ahead to reopen at limited capacity from Apr 1, after a closure of almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Capacity will be limited to between 15 per cent and 35 per cent, the California Department of Health said in an update. Masks and other safety measures will be required and the parks initially will be open only to state residents.
Outdoor stadiums and ball parks will also be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity, starting Apr 1.
Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement that the decision meant "getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighboring businesses and our entire community.
"With responsible Disney safety protocols already implemented around the world, we can’t wait to welcome our guests back get," Potrock added.
He did not give a date for the reopening of Disneyland in the southern California city of Anaheim.
Disney shares were trading at US$195.10 after hours, after closing at US$189.99.
Disney in September said it was furloughing some 28,000 workers, mostly across its US theme parks in California and Florida.
Friday's announcement follows a decline in coronavirus cases in California and the rollout of vaccines. A parking lot at Disneyland is currently being used as a mass vaccination site.
Theme parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland and Knott's Berry Farm protested strongly last October when California health officials ruled out any quick reopening of their attractions.
The California Attractions and Parks Association called Friday's announcement "encouraging news".
"Parks now have a framework to safely and responsibly reopen ... putting people safely back to work and reinvigorating local economies,” the association said in a statement.