Universal Orlando seeks to reopen theme parks in early June

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Universal Orlando is aiming to reopen its theme parks in early June, a resort official said Thursday, more than two months after the company joined crosstown rivals Disney World and SeaWorld in closing their gates to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Universal Orlando executive John Sprouls asked Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings for approval to open the company’s theme parks as early as June 5, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Demings must sign off on Universal’s reopening plan before it heads to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his approval, the newspaper said.

Universal, Disney World and SeaWorld have been closed since mid-March in an effort to stop the virus’s spread.

During a tourism forum in Orlando with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, SeaWorld’s interim CEO, Marc Swanson, said he also expected a reopening in June. Officials with Disney World haven’t said when they plan to reopen.

Both Disney and Universal in Orlando have reopened shopping complexes and restaurants in the past week, with several restrictions. All workers and visitors must wear masks, although Disney exempts children under age 3. Temperatures are checked at entrances to keep out anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or higher and a limited number of people are admitted to allow social distancing.

Many of those same protocols will be implemented at the theme parks. Children’s play areas will remain closed and employees won’t be sharing wardrobes, Sprouls said.

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