Earlier this year, we told you about theme parks and seasonal workers being the collateral victims of Covid-19. the season 2021 is about to be very difficult with delayed opening of the seasonal parks. Scheduled early April as usual, reopening once again has been delayed to God knows when because of the crisis. But the wait might come to an end as President Emmanuel Macron announced a progressive lockdown exit for the different sectors closed, starting from mid-May.
Will theme parks be able to reopen in May? It seems they will! And for good reason: according to our peers from Tourmag, a media specialized in tourism, theme parks might reopen from May 19 in compliance with the schedule presented this past April 30 by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne - State Secretary for Tourism - to representatives of the industry. Yet, still according to the State Secretary, attractions and rides will only reopen from June 9, during the third phase of the lockdown exit.
The reopening is subject to a visitor-guage limited to 5,000 per day, without a health pass required beyond 1,000 people in, if people stay only for the day as the SNELAC - the national union trade for places of leisure, attractions and cultural - has announced on Twitter. And from June 30, good news: the gauge will no longer be required, and parks will open at 100% of their capacity. A schedule highly awaited by the industry. "We keep on talking with the Ministry of Tourism, especially on the health protocols to instate, but we have no schedule", Auvergne PAL park director and SNELAC president Arnaud Bennet told Le Parisien. He goes on: "Like everyone, we listen to what the government says and hope the contamination curve will decline..."
The sector represented 3 billion euros incomes in 2019, according to Capital. The government only promises them a nice envelop to cover fixed expenses, as they are faced with exploitation expenses. For instance, employees are required to attend animals in zoos, and to make rides run to prevent them from deteriorating.
As for parks, they do not understand: "I heard what Emmannuel Macron said in mid-March: outdoor contaminatiosn are in minority. On these conditions, I don't understand why we're still obliged to stay closed. This is beyond understanding", Saint-Martin-la-Plaine Zoo (Loire) owner Pierre Thivillon told La Tribune; He even decided to write an open letter to the Head of State asking to reopen as soon as possible, implementing strict health protocols. But so far, his letter has been given no answer.
In spite the lack of news, or because of it, theme parks are ready to bounce back as soon as they are allowed to reopen. Because of their sizes and because they are set outdoors, they hope to be able to reopen from May 15, for the Feast of the Ascension. Auvergne PAL park director and head of the theme parks union trade (SNELAC) Arnaud Bennet explains their demands to our peers from Le Parisien: “What we are claiming for is to be part of the first reopening wagon. Starting from June, like last year, would be too economically detrimental. We also wish measures made to our activity: a gauge not more severe than 2020, with food to take away in the park, and classic food serving in our hotels… Last year, we proved our protocols were spot on: there has been no cluster as ours”.
He goes on: “We keep talking with Tourism minister, especially as it comes to health protocols to instate, but we have been given no tickler. Like everyone else, we listen to what the government says and hope the contamination curve eventually decreases… And obviously, it cannot be in April”.
Disneyland Paris has already announced that both parks are to remain closed until further notice because of the Covid crisis. The place celebrates 29 years of entertainment in April, and one of the hotels has been requisitioned to become a vaccination hub.