Limited version of Playland reopens with new COVID-19 precautions

Masked visitors ride the teacups at Vancouver's Playland on July 10, 2020. Jordan Armstrong

A limited version of Vancouver’s Playland amusement park reopened Friday, under a slew of new precautions meant to protect against COVID-19.

Capacity is being strictly limited, and visitors will need to buy tickets in advance.

The park is offering two daily time-slots: from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with a dozen family and children-focused rides operating.

“What we wanted to do was start with our most popular family rides, these are rides that are clearly geared at our younger thrill seekers,” said Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) spokesperson Laura Ballance.

“The idea is we will continue to revisit it as we move through the summer and see if we can’t add some of the larger, more iconic rides like the wooden roller coaster.”

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Masks are mandatory while in line-ups and on rides, and cash is not being accepted in the park.

There will also be a limited number of food options, including Triple O’s, Fundunker mini donuts and cotton candy.

Click to play video: 'Open House: PNE Prize Home virtual tour'
Open House: PNE Prize Home virtual tour

Ballance said reopening has allowed the park to recall hundreds of employees.

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Visitors are being asked to maintain two metres distance from others, to use hand sanitizer before and after rides, and to wash their hands frequently. The park has also installed plexiglass shields “where possible.”

Ballance said the precautions were an extension of Playland’s existing safety-first philosophy.

“We’re very proud of our protocols we’ve put in place today,” she said.

On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials were satisfied with the precautions in place.

“I know they’ve been working closely with both WorkSafe and Vancouver Coastal (Health) to make sure that it is small groups of people, … reservations, contact information, limitations on who can be where at a certain time,” she said.

The PNE has previously run several “Taste of the PNE” drive-thru events letting fans sample its iconic mini-donuts and barbecue options.

Click to play video: 'Bumper-to-bumper traffic for PNE drive-thru mini donut event'
Bumper-to-bumper traffic for PNE drive-thru mini donut event

The PNE is planning to stage a version of its annual fair later this summer as a drive-thru event featuring popular events such as the Superdogs and agricultural exhibits.

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The PNE will hold its next drive-thru event the August long weekend with details still to come.

Back in April, provincial health officer Henry said organizers of large outdoor events should think about alternatives as physical-distancing measures continued to be in effect.

That prompted PNE organizers to pause plans to open as usual in the last two weeks of August, and rethink how the popular event that brings in $85 million in revenue a year could still take place.

— With files from Amy Judd

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