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Busch Gardens hints at Summer-time reopening

Posted at 12:01 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 17:33:02-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The company that owns and operates Busch Gardens hopes to reopen the Williamsburg theme park in August.

"The Company expects its Busch Gardens theme park in Virginia to commence a phased reopening in early August 2020," SeaWorld Entertainment wrote in a July 29 news release detailing the company's response to COVID-19.

No additional details were provided about the potential park reopening.

"In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in compliance with government restrictions, the Company temporarily closed all of its theme parks, effective March 16, 2020," the release read. "Beginning in June 2020, the Company began the phased reopening of some of its parks with reduced operating days and capacity limitations. In particular, on June 6, the Company's Aquatica park in Texas reopened; on June 11, all five of the Company's Florida parks reopened; on June 19, its SeaWorld park in Texas reopened and on July 24, its Sesame Place park in Pennsylvania reopened."

But Gov. Northam's office said Wednesday that if they were to reopen, they would have to follow Phase Three guidelines including new regional restrictions on food and beverage services (50 percent capacity and alcohol cutoff), and not promote gatherings of more than 50 people.

SeaWorld Entertainment referenced "enhanced health and safety protocols" associated with park reopenings.

Those include:

  • increased cleaning and sanitizing
  • capacity limitations
  • physical distancing practices
  • face covering requirements
  • temperature screenings for both employees and guests
  • online reservation system to help manage capacity

"Based on this guidance, and our need for several weeks to turn things back on, we're looking at a closure well into July, and maybe later, which will be devastating to our business and the local economy," said Kevin Lembke, the President of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, said in June.

COVID-19 cases in Virginia began to tick upwards following the Phase 3 reopening on July 1.

A majority of the new cases were focused in Hampton Roads.

In reaction to those numbers, Gov. Northam issued an emergency order ban alcohol sales after 10 p.m. as well as gatherings of more than 50 people in that region of the state. The restrictions take effect at 12 a.m. Friday.

Northam said Tuesday that the emergency order is aimed at stopping the surge of coronavirus cases in cities near the coast.

This is a developing story.

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