Amusement parks reopen with safety plans in place ahead of holiday weekend

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — As tourists head to the beach for the holiday weekend, amusement parks in the area are starting to open up little by little.

They’ve had to submit safe reopening plans to the local government in order to open their doors once again and several of those parks, like PCB Slingshot and Indy Speedway, are doing that just in time for the rush of visitors.

“It’s good to be open,” said Ruairi McKenna, general manager for PCB Slingshot. “The staff certainly needs to get back to work, it’s been a long eight weeks for most of them.”

The little amusement park reopened for the first time in months on Friday; McKenna says they’re excited but cautious.

“We just need to do it in a controlled or safe manner,” he said. “If things do get too busy up here, we’re going to slow something down or restrict our hours even more, which is not what we want to do.”

He said they’re enforcing strict social-distancing guidelines, as well as cleaning rides after every use, and checking employees’ temperatures at the start and end of every shift.

“If people aren’t abiding by that we’ll have to just shut down again,” McKenna said.

Down the road at Gulf World they’ve also reopened the doors, and it’s not just the people who are excited.

“The animals, you can see they’re a little spunkier,” said Pamela George, the general manager of Gulf World. “A lot of people around for them to look at.”

Gulf World also has strict policies in place to keep everyone healthy, even blocking off some parts of the park that don’t encourage safe social-distancing, like their bird theater. Overall, George said reopening has been like a breath of fresh air.

“It was great seeing all the smiling faces again and having people in the park,” George said.

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