L.A. County to require theme park guests to show COVID vaccination proof or virus test results

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Large Los Angeles County theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain may have to ask guests for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative coronavirus test starting next month under a planned health officer order, officials said.

On Wednesday, L.A. County’s health department announced a that a new order will come later this week requiring vaccine verification in select high-risk settings by Oct. 7.

Outdoor mega-events like concerts and sports games with crowds of more than 10,000 people are among the places that will be listed in the new order. Guests will have to show proof of vaccine or negative coronavirus tests taken within the previous 72 hours.

That rule will also apply to theme parks, which the state recently began including under the outdoor event venue definition, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a county Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday.

Ferrer said many large outdoor event venues have already had experience with vaccine verification, and have the resources to do it.

Local theme park representatives told KTLA they’re still reviewing county guidance.

“Theme parks have not been categorized as mega-event venues in previous county health orders and have different operational capabilities and practices,” a Universal Studios Hollywood spokesperson said. “We are reviewing the updated order with health officials with that context in mind.”

A Six Flags Magic Mountain spokesperson said the theme park is continuing to monitor county guidance and had no updates to share.

It’s unclear what implementation of the new requirement will look like at the two theme parks, or when they’ll begin asking guests to bring proof of vaccination.

Ferrer said masking compliance “is pretty low” at the outdoor venues, where “there’s tons of exposure.”

“This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Ferrer said. “This is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges.”

The health director said health officials acknowledge some sectors would need a lot of work to be able to implement a vaccine verification requirement, but venues identified in the forthcoming order are ones where less work will be needed.

Ferrer said the county will work with theme parks to prepare for the new requirements.

Since the rule will apply to venues that have more than 10,000 people, smaller outdoor theme parks throughout the county won’t be included in the new requirement.

Before California’s June 15 mass reopening, theme parks in the state had to adhere to strict capacity limits that were dependent on the coronavirus transmission levels in their counties. Before that, they were forced to shutter for more than a year.

And for some time, only in-state visitors were able to California’s theme parks.

Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags ended up welcoming back guests in April following a yearlong COVID-19-related closure.

Currently, while there are no state-mandated capacity limits, theme park guests still have to follow coronavirus guidelines.

At Universal Studios and Six Flags, masks are required indoors regardless of vaccination status.

California state officials have been strongly recommending that theme parks verify vaccination status or ask for a negative test result, but it’s not currently required for the outdoor venues. 

Under state guidelines, guests of venues that ask for proof of vaccination can show their white Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination record card, a photocopy or photo of it on their phone or a digital record that includes a scannable QR code.

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