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COVID-19: Vancouver’s Playland reopens with limited visitors

Click to play video: 'Playland reopens to limited visitors' Playland reopens to limited visitors
WATCH: While this summer may not be fully back to normal, one seasonal tradition in the lower mainland reopened Friday night. As Aaron McArthur reports, not even a little rain can dampen the fun at Playland – Jun 12, 2021

The rides are running and delighted screams can be heard from the iconic fairgrounds that host Playland in East Vancouver.

The popular amusement park reopened to guests amid strict COVID-19 safety protocols on Friday.

The muted restart comes more than a month after the attraction’s usual spring opening was postponed on April 27, at the peak of the pandemic’s third wave in B.C.

Read more: Playland delays reopening as B.C. fights COVID-19 third wave concerns

“It feels like a bit of a beacon of hope for a good summer, even though there’s some crowds out and a little bit of rain, it’s not going to dampen our spirits,” Pacific National Exhibition president and CEO Shelly Frost told Global News on Friday.

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“There is a ton of laughs and music and smiles on people’s faces, and it is a good day.”

Click to play video: 'Playland hits pause on re-opening' Playland hits pause on re-opening
Playland hits pause on re-opening – Apr 28, 2021

The park is operating with significantly reduced capacity, physical distancing, increased cleaning procedures and mandatory masks in most areas.

Read more: COVID-19: B.C. gives support to certain tourism attractions, but won’t bail out PNE

Attendees need to buy a ticket and book a time slot in advance.

The park is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of June, and is currently only open to residents of the Lower Mainland.

Click to play video: 'The PNE starts planning for an in-person summer fair' The PNE starts planning for an in-person summer fair
The PNE starts planning for an in-person summer fair – May 26, 2021

Both Playland and the PNE are facing major economic challenges amid the pandemic, and fair officials, the union representing workers and Vancouver’s mayor have repeatedly called for more pandemic support from senior levels of government.

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The PNE has applied for $1 million in support through B.C.’s anchor attraction grant program, but operators say that will fall far short of the $8 million deficit it’s facing.

Read more: PNE organizers start planning for an in-person fair this summer

“There are still financial challenges, there’s no doubt about it. And although we are thrilled to have the park open, our capacities are low. It’s not going to solve the financial challenges,” Frost said.

The amusement park is hoping to expand dates as summer progresses, with plans to run a scaled-down Pacific National Exhibition, should the province’s pandemic situation continue to improve in August.

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