Gilroy Gardens to remain closed despite newly released theme park guidelines

Santa Clara County balks at state allowing theme parks, stadiums to reopen

Riders enjoy the twists and turns of the Quicksilver Express roller coaster at Gilroy Gardens. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

State health officials released new Covid-19 reopening guidelines Oct. 20 that allow theme parks and stadiums to resume limited operations.

Santa Clara County health officials, however, quickly responded, saying theme parks such as Gilroy Gardens and California’s Great America must remain closed, and audiences at professional sporting events are still prohibited.

Smaller theme parks, which are those with a capacity of less than 15,000 people, can reopen with 25 percent capacity, if the county where they reside are in Tier 3 as outlined in the state’s reopening guidance.

Stadiums in Tier 3 can reopen with 20 percent audience capacity, with ticket sales limited to those who live within a 120-mile radius.

The state reclassified Santa Clara County into Tier 3, also known as the Orange Tier, on Oct. 13, as it met a number of Covid-19 testing and case count metrics.

However, County Executive Jeff Smith said Gilroy Gardens and Great America were notified that activity is still prohibited, despite the state’s guidelines. The stricter of the state or local order takes priority.

Smith primarily addressed stadiums during a media conference Oct. 20.

“Now is not a time to be relaxing regulations,” he said. “Putting an audience in stadiums in large groups is just asking for trouble. It’s like a petri dish.”

In a statement, health officials stressed that audiences at professional sporting events “will not be allowed anytime soon in Santa Clara County.”

“We started with the county as a hotspot,” Smith said. “But because the people of this county were vigorous in social distancing and sheltering in place, we knocked down the incidents of this virus considerably.”

Gilroy Gardens announced in August that it would close through the rest of 2020 based on the uncertainty of the pandemic and government restrictions. The park is targeting a May 2021 reopening.

Cedar Fair, the Ohio-based company that manages Gilroy Gardens, also announced that Great America in Santa Clara, which it owns, will remain closed for the rest of the year.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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