Reopening Parks in a Physically Distanced World

As the COVID-19 spread slows down in China, more and more attractions and parks have started reopening and are now welcoming guests who’ve been cooped up at home since late January. During the period of forced closure, many parks took the opportunity to restore and maintain all their rides and attractions.

A lot of measures are currently being taken to avoid a second outbreak across the country, and parks, being spaces where people congregate have been no exception. To limit the number of visitors in parks, guests are required to book tickets in advance and register online with their ID cards. Many parks have also shortened their operating hours, for example, some parks now close at 5pm. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has published a guide to help parks with reopening – they’ve recommended that the number of visitors be limited to 30% of their usual capacity, and that outdoor parks reopen earlier than indoor parks.

Temperature Checks and Physical Distancing

When park guests arrive at park gates, staff wearing masks take their temperatures, double check online registrations and ID cards, and guests are also required to wear masks. People with temperatures not exceeding 37.3C are allowed to enter. Hand sanitizers can also be found all throughout parks for guests to utilize. At all rides, guests are required to stand 1.5m apart when lining up to adhere to physical distancing rules, and some rides have been modified to enable separated seating. To attract more families, many parks have even waived ticket fees for children on weekends.

To create more interactions with guests, some parks have started giving out free passes to cosplayers dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, comic superheroes, and the like. Photos taken of guests interacting with cosplayers are then shared on social media to attract more guests.

Disinfection and Sanitization Protocols

Parks now adhere to strict disinfection protocols as keeping all surfaces that guests and employees come into contact with clean is paramount to safety. Posters, signs, and notices detailing disinfection protocols are often posted throughout the park for visitors to read.

On parks’ social media channels, posts featuring comics and animations reminding people to wash their hands are posted frequently, alongside promotional ads that offer discounted digital annual passes. Many parks have also announced free individual and family passes for healthcare workers as a way of thanking them for their service. All they have to do is to register online and to show their medical IDs to park employees at the park entrance.

Streaming Activities Online

In addition to stepped-up sanitization and physical distancing initiatives, parks have also taken a chunk of their activities online; for instance, having well-known social media stars, cosplayers, and the like selling park related products on live streaming platforms. Some aquariums have even started delivering online lessons to introduce their resident animals and have  started livestreaming their animals being fed by keepers daily.

These are all initiatives that parks around the world can emulate in order to reopen when the spread of COVID-19 has come under control. By analyzing how well each of their strategies work, other parks will be able to pick and choose which strategies to take on board to smoothly transition into a physically distanced world.

Dawn Kirby