TimesOC: Anaheim supports bill that would reopen Disneyland, Knott’s

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TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 17. I’m reporter Ben Brazil, writing from Irvine today.

The Happiest Place on Earth hasn’t been so happy lately.

But all those ravenous Disneyland fans craving to dust off their Mickey ears and pin collections may have reason to celebrate this week after the Anaheim City Council backed a state bill on Tuesday that could allow Disneyland to reopen from its pandemic closure earlier than expected.

Assembly Bill 420 would allow larger theme parks such as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm to reopen after meeting the same requirements as smaller amusement parks.

The state’s theme park reopening guidelines hold that a larger theme park can reopen at only 25% capacity when its county is in the minimal tier of less than one new COVID-19 case per 100,000 people per day and a coronavirus positivity rate of less than 2%. Smaller theme parks can operate at limited capacity once their county has reached the moderate tier of 1 to 3.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day and a coronavirus positivity rate of 2% to 4.9%.

Mayor Harry Sidhu, who proposed the item, said reopening Disneyland is critical to the healing of the local economy.

It’s notable that Sidhu’s campaign received $2,000 from Disney during his mayoral run in 2018. Disney donated at least $1.6 million to candidates and city ballot measures during the 2018 election, including current council members Jordan Brandman and Trevor O’Neil.

Not everybody is on board with the bill.

Councilman Jose Moreno, who regularly finds himself on a political island on the Anaheim dais, was the only dissenter of the 6-1 vote.

Moreno said he’s worried about the potential spreading of the virus in the surrounding resort area.

“We are talking about pushing legislation to allow sooner 25,000 to 35,000 visitors to come to Anaheim every single day,” Moreno said. “Not to mention the 5,000 to 10,000 employees who will have to work to serve those folks.”

On Thursday, the county’s vaccination site at Disneyland was forced to close after a storm in Texas and other parts of the South delayed delivery of the vaccine.

People with appointments were turned away and will be provided with information on how to reschedule.

The earliest the site could reopen is Monday.

Nurse Celina Mande, left, tries to connect iPad.
Nurse Celina Mande, left, tries to connect an iPad so Joseph Trejo, on a ventilator, can hear a mariachi band arranged by his wife, Patty Trejo, center, playing “La mano de Dios” (The Hand of God), his favorite song, in the parking lot of St. Jude Medical Center on Monday in Fullerton.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


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