Thrill-seekers may soon have to take an extra step of caution before they enter theme parks in Los Angeles County.
Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test will be required at “outdoor mega events” with 10,000 people, which now includes theme parks, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced Sept. 15. Ferrer told the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors that the full restrictions will be updated in a revised health order to be issued on Sept. 17.
“This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk of transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Ferrer said during the Board of Supervisors meeting. “This is a reasonable path forward that will position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges.”
Ferrer said that “targeted vaccine mandates” are now the county’s strategy for “quickly raising vaccination coverage across our county and ending the pandemic.”
This comes after theme parks Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain said they will not require guests to wear masks outdoors at their parks last month, despite the Los Angeles County Public Health Department’s (LAPHD) ordinance requiring guests to wear masks at outdoor mega events.
A Universal Studios spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that they continue to comply with county health guidelines, despite the fact that theme parks were not categorized as “mega events” in previous iterations of the public health order.
“The health and safety of our guests and Team Members team members is our top priority and we continue to comply with all current L.A. County Health guidelines,” the spokesperson said. “Theme parks have not been categorized as mega-event venues in previous county health orders and have different operational capabilities and practices. We are reviewing the updated order with health officials with that context in mind.”
The new public health order will now also require proof of vaccination for customers and employees in indoor parts of bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs; vaccine verification for employees and customers in indoor parts of restaurants is recommended, but not required.
The county will work with venue operators to discuss enforcement strategies, Ferrer said. In places that serve alcohol such as nightclubs and bars, Ferrer said, there should not be too much difficulty since businesses must already check customers’ IDs to verify they are of drinking age.
“There is a cyclical nature to this virus, and as long as we have large numbers of unvaccinated people here in the county, we’re at the mercy of the cyclical nature of the [virus],” Ferrer said. “We doom ourselves in some ways to potentially another surge later in October, November, December, when conditions really favor COVID-19 virus replication if we’re not really diligent now and take some actions that will reduce risks of exposure.”
All patrons and employees will need at least one dose of vaccine by Oct. 7, and a second dose by Nov. 4. The mandate will be enforced beginning Oct. 7.
A spokesperson for Six Flags Magic Mountain told The Epoch Times they “continue to monitor county guidance,” but declined to comment further.