Could CT amusement parks re-open this summer amid pandemic? Owners say they have plans for health safety in the parks

New Haven

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Middlebury has been home to a staple of Connecticut summertime family fun for over 100 years. But, this year, something strange is going on — nothing. Quassy Amusement and Waterpark is empty — no people, no screams, no movement on the carousel, nothing. It’s all due to the COVID-19 shutdowns across the state.

The virus has left Quassy’s co-owner with a roller-coaster of emotions — mostly pain.

“This pandemic is definitely a financial burden,” said co-owner, George Frantzis. “Obviously, we’d be open right now and employing 500 kids throughout this area.”

Frantzis says he and others in the amusement park industry have a plan to safely reopen amusement parks in the age of COVID-19.

“We’ve been going through the CDC guidelines,” Frantzis said. “We’ve been consulting with the International Association of Amusement Parks. Also in conversation with the New England Association of Amusement Parks. So, we feel, yes, we can open up safely.”

Here are some of the changes they’re proposing:

First, they’d cap capacity at around 50% — maintaining safe social distancing and it starts as soon as guests drive into the parking lot.

“One of the things we’d be doing is parking in every other parking spot to promote the social distancing,” Frantzis said.

Once you’re in the park, you would follow markings on the ground indicating if you’re walking six feet apart. Park workers would keep watch.

“We’re going to do everything we can to adhere to those guidelines here in the park,” said Frantzis.

Next, when you get in lines to board rides, they’d stagger seating.

“For example,” Frantzis said. “If I were here with my son, I might be in the first row. We’re gonna skip that second row, and then you and your child might be in the 3rd row.”

Family members or people you came with would be the only ones who share seats on rides, which would constantly be wiped down — even if that means temporarily shutting rides down throughout the day.

Also, everyone in the park would have to wear a mask. Every employee would have their temperature taken.

“Referring back to the CDC guidelines and everything that’s been published to date, we have gotten our game plan,” Frantzis said. “Knowing the proper procedures that have been set forth by The CDC and the state,” said Frantzis. “They’re working. It’s important that we understand that. And so, we’re going to do everything we can to adhere to those guidelines.”

Amusement parks are not part of Governor Lamont’s Phase One plan for reopening Connecticut. Frantzis hopes the governor will take a good look at what amusement park operators are putting forward and include them in Phase Two.

That would give Frantzis hope to be back open by the end of June and perhaps salvage part of the summer.

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