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Monday, November 2, 2020

Soon you may need to take a COVID test in order to visit a theme park

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2020 at 10:33 AM

click to enlarge IMAGE VIA SIX FLAGS
  • Image via Six Flags
Theme parks regularly survey guests on various concepts and trends, though few of them are ever realized. Still, multiple recent surveys by Six Flags show the company is trying to gauge what it needs to do for visitors to feel comfortable returning to its parks. In recent weeks, the Texas-based amusement park chain has sent at least four different surveys assessing the public’s comfort with visiting a theme park during the ongoing pandemic.

In a survey related to Holiday in the Parks, Six Flags’ winter celebration, respondents were asked to pick four scenarios that would make them feel the most comfortable visiting the holiday event this year. Out of the 10 options, one was “Everyone around you has been recently COVID-19 tested.” That survey laid out numerous other mitigation options such as required social distancing and having all events outside.



click to enlarge A screenshot of a question from a recent Six Flags survey regarding COVID - IMAGE VIA SIX FLAGS | QUALTRICS
  • Image via Six Flags | Qualtrics
  • A screenshot of a question from a recent Six Flags survey regarding COVID
Another survey by the company indicates that they’re looking at potentially requiring all guests to take a COVID test before admission. With more than 50 questions, this survey focuses almost exclusively on the idea of COVID tests at the parks.

In the survey, Six Flags introduced the required test concept by explaining, “Many businesses in Europe now require everyone to show proof that they have tested 'COVID FREE' within the last seven days before they are allowed to visit. People can get the proof they need by stopping by any pharmacy, where for just $5 you can take a quick test and if you test COVID-free you get a card that is valid for the next seven days.”

click to enlarge A screenshot of one of the questions on the Six Flags COVID survey - IMAGE VIA SIX FLAGS | QUALTRICS
  • Image via Six Flags | Qualtrics
  • A screenshot of one of the questions on the Six Flags COVID survey
The survey then asked respondents what they thought of this program and if they’d like to see a similar program in the U.S. Next, a series of questions asked how likely the respondent would be to take such a test for various activities and how likely they'd be to visit Six Flags if it could be guaranteed that nobody inside had COVID.

Five more questions followed regarding the respondent's likelihood to take such a test if it were required for admission to the amusement park, with many of them emphasizing the $5 cost for the test.

click to enlarge A screenshot of one of the questions on the Six Flags COVID survey - IMAGE VIA SIX FLAGS | QUALTRICS
  • Image via Six Flags | Qualtrics
  • A screenshot of one of the questions on the Six Flags COVID survey
Since the beginning of March, the pandemic has resulted in $434 billion in cumulative losses for the travel industry. For many in the industry, tests and a post-test bubble-like environment have provided a possible solution to alleviate traveler worries. Hawaii requires those who don’t submit to such a test to quarantine for two weeks with severe penalties if they break quarantine, and New York recently introduced similar requirements. Many airports, including Tampa International, are now offering all passengers rapid COVID tests. Tampa International is also offering the more accurate PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests.

Cruise ships had previously seen success using rapid COVID tests, which can have results within 15 minutes, but a recent order by the CDC requires cruise lines to start using PCR tests on crew members.

click to enlarge Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. - IMAGE VIA EMIRATES
  • Image via Emirates
  • Passengers on a flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 before departing from Dubai. Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers.

Hotels have also begun looking at requiring tests for guests. Room Mate Hotels began rolling out on-site tests for guests last month, with all guests required to take a test prior to arrival or at the time of check-in. Those staying for longer periods will be required to retest every three to five days.

Wynn Resorts announced its own on-site testing center on Oct. 1. In an opinion piece in the Nevada Independent, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said it's time to focus on the science in an effort to save the hospitality industry. “[H]oping our government alone will also solve getting Las Vegas back on track is not viable. Hope, as the saying goes, is not a strategy. Instead, community leaders must present science-based options that advance our broader goals to reignite our city.” He noted that tests could help alleviate the fear that is keeping many from visiting places like Vegas. 

Still, a recent study showed that more than 23% of those polled are likely to visit a theme park within the next six months. According to another recent survey, more than half of Americans have six or more unused vacation days and 60% of respondents said having a vacation scheduled within the next six months would give them something to look forward to. But for now, things don’t look to be improving, with record COVID-related hospitalizations up in almost every state and 55% of respondents thinking things will worsen within the next month.

click to enlarge Wing coaster X-Flight at Six Flags Great America - IMAGE BY JEREMY THOMPSON VIA ROLLER COASTER PHILOSOPHY/WIKIMEDIA
  • Image by Jeremy Thompson via Roller Coaster Philosophy/Wikimedia
  • Wing coaster X-Flight at Six Flags Great America
For Six Flags and other parks and businesses in the tourism industry, on-site testing hopefully resulting in a mostly COVID-free bubble might be just the thing to finally bring back guests.


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