LOS ANGELES — Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test will soon be necessary to enter Los Angeles County’s largest theme parks, a top health official confirmed Thursday.
Under a new health order to be issued this week, such verification will be necessary for attendees of outdoor “mega events” — those with 10,000-plus visitors — starting Oct. 7.
While that covers periodic happenings such as conventions, concerts and sporting events, the California Department of Public Health has also extended that definition to include amusement and water parks.
In L.A. County, that means Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain could be subject to the test-or-vaccine verification requirement.
“It’s only for those theme parks that have over 10,000 visitors. For parks that are smaller, they will not be covered by this,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a briefing Thursday.
According to a 2020 study by the engineering firm Aecom, Universal Studios Hollywood averages about 25,000 visitors per day while Magic Mountain averages 9,900 per day.
It was not immediately clear whether the county would use a park’s daily attendance or its operational capacity to determine whether the new rules will apply.
In a statement, officials at Universal Studios Hollywood noted that “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.”
L.A. County’s requirements will go beyond what the state proscribes. The state recommends, but does not mandate, that attendees of outdoor mega events show proof that they’ve recently tested negative for COVID-19 or have been fully vaccinated.
However, the state does require such verification for indoor events with at least 1,000 people.
The new L.A. County health order, expected to be formally issued by Friday, also will stipulate that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges. Customers and employees will need to have at least one vaccine dose by Oct. 7 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 4.
Ferrer previously said residents could demonstrate their inoculation history using digital records provided by either the county or the state, or by showing their vaccine card or a photograph of it.
With three weeks remaining until the new order goes into effect, Ferrer said public health officials have time to meet with businesses and venues to go over specific questions or circumstances.
“We will, as always, spend the next few weeks providing technical assistance,” she said. “We do visits where people ask us to. We hold briefings. We’ve already spoken with bars, nightclubs and lounges; we’re speaking with large-event venues tomorrow. We do one-on-one calls with folks who request that because they have special circumstances that they need to run by us. And we’re here to be helpful with all of the businesses that will need to come into compliance with this.”
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