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Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld parks reopen with masks, temperature checks

Two more Florida theme parks were opening Thursday after being closed since mid-March to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay were opening their gates with new restrictions.

Reservations are now required to enter the parks in order to limit capacity for social distancing. But SeaWorld Orlando will be closed on future Tuesdays and Thursdays and Busch Gardens will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the foreseeable future.

Visitors age 2 and up will be required to wear face masks and everyone will have a temperature screening at the parks’ entrances.

The openings of the parks owned by SeaWorld Entertainment come as Florida’s theme parks industry is coming back to life. Universal Orlando Resort reopened last week after being closed since March, and Walt Disney World theme parks will be welcoming back visitors next month.

Bars, movie theaters and other entertainment venues in Florida were allowed to reopen last week with restrictions, and restaurants and shops have been back open for weeks with limits on capacity. Those business re-openings have allowed some workers to go back to work and that was reflected Thursday in a U.S. Department of Labor report that showed more than 110,000 Floridians filed for new jobless claims last week, down from more than 207,000 claims in the previous week.

SeaWorld Entertainment, which operates 12 theme parks across the U.S., said it was losing $25 million a month and was forced to furlough 95% of its workforce with its parks idled. Before the parks closed in March, the company was off to a strong start to 2020 with record-setting attendance and revenue in January and February, according to its quarterly financial report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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