In response to theme park industry concerns, Los Angeles County has slightly eased its upcoming COVID-19 vaccination / testing requirement for visitors to large venues like Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood, but the General mandate will remain.
Under a recently enacted County Health Officer Order, all attendees and employees at outdoor mega-events with 10,000 people or more will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours, and the mandate will take effect on October 7.
The order will apply to large theme parks, which were recently categorized by the state as a great place for outdoor events.
County theme parks, along with an industry association, raised concerns about the requirement, claiming they had limited staff to verify required documentation, both a vaccine / test verification and photo ID, which could lead to lengthy lines for admission to parks.
They also argued that customers who bought tickets in advance before the requirements were announced should have a grace period.
When asked about the issue during the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said small changes are being made to facilitate implementation of the rules at theme parks like Magic Mountain and Universal Studios.
Specifically, the county will no longer require proof of a negative COVID test for clients 11 and under, an age group that is not yet eligible for vaccines. The county also removed the requirement for clients 17 and under to provide photo identification along with their proof of vaccination / evidence.
The county also agreed to delay the photo ID requirement for individuals 18 and older until November 1, although individuals will still have to provide proof of vaccination / proof as of October 7.
Ferrer said the delay “gives everyone more time to implement their (vaccine / testing verification) systems and then add the ID requirement in November.”
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes Magic Mountain, said she sympathized with the park and its concerns about implementing county requirements, which go beyond those required by the state. He said the requirement “caught Six Flags by surprise” and urged Ferrer to work more closely with industries that may be affected by the new orders from health officials.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Universal Studios, said she’s “a lot less patient with companies who have complained like they didn’t see this coming and were so blind.”
“The reason they don’t want to change is that they have sold millions of dollars worth of tickets across the country,” Kuehl said.
“… We have a huge number of visitors from all over the country, including the red states with very high infection rates. … This is a very large number of people, especially for Halloween tickets, which is what Universal is concerned about. They really want to pack up the park. I think you have to recognize that they are understanding, they are taking a step forward, they want to work on it. But I would suggest that the industry also has a job, and that job is, don’t just send me a letter saying “don’t do this.” Because that is not useful. We will, and I’m not just talking about theme parks. “
The new county health order will also require proof of vaccination for all customers and employees in the interior parts of bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges. All users and employees will need at least one dose of vaccine before October 7 and a second dose before November 4.
The order recommends, but does not require, vaccination verification for employees and customers at indoor restaurant sites.