Indian amusement park operators call for official permission to remain open during COVID surge
Amid a surge in infections driven by the Omicron variant, the Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries (IAAPI) is calling on India’s state governments to give theme and amusement parks permission to remain open with strict COVID-19 safety measures.
Concerned about surge in COVID-19 cases but fearing the impact of ongoing closures on the industry, Rajeev Jalnapurkar, IAAPI Chairman and Director of Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City, commented that a new round of closures would “be a fatal blow to the industry as huge investments and manpower planning had been undertaken to restart parks which were closed for over a year."
With lockdown-like restrictions returning once again in the wake of the Omicron-triggered third wave of COVID-19, IAAPI has suggested that parks introduce limited capacity and online reservations.
The Indian states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi and Haryana have imposed closure orders while Karnataka has clamped weekend curbs on the amusement park industry which include open-to-sky theme parks, water parks, adventure parks and some indoor centres.
Expressing concern over the developments and urging the Indian and state governments to reconsider, Jalnapurkar stated “(this) industry is (the) first to close and last to reopen.
“(The) amusement park industry was allowed to reopen from 22nd October 2021, after the second wave, and it has barely been two months of its reopening that it has been closed down again.” Jalnapurkar went on emphasise that entry to entertainment parks is highly-priced based on rides and attractions with online registration to avoid crowds at the entry gate, unlike attractions such as zoos, museums and forts which are either free or low priced and therefore the visitors to amusement parks are lesser in number and are better regulated.
He requested that state governments allow amusement parks and theme parks to operate on 50% capacity as allowed to indoor venues like malls, cinemas, restaurants, gyms and beauty salons for survival and employment retention.
He concluded that the industry had been adhering to all prescribed SOPs and guidelines issued by the Ministries of Home Affairs, Health and Tourism Department of the state and will continue to do so.
Image: Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City, the world's largest movie-based attraction. Credit: Ramoji Film City.
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