When Universal Orlando rolled out plans last week for reopening its Orlando theme parks, some health-assurance procedures might appear radical to a pre-coronavirus world, but perhaps not to a post-coronavirus world.
Universal’s plans to reopen on June 5 included requirements that everyone, workers and guests, wear masks, have their temperatures checked, and practice social distancing as if everyone else in the park is already sick.
Some places could go much further in preparing to open public events as the coronavirus crisis and its risks of severe illnesses and deaths eases, but does not go away.
One consultant working with live-audience studio shows and other major big-audience clients, identifications they will not disclose, said the technology and opportunity exists to require patrons to be monitored long before they even arrive.
Attractions and other businesses dependent on captive customers can plan all they want for on-site health precautions. But surveys already are showing that if people are not confident they won’t be exposed to the coronavirus, many simply will not come.
WorkCare, a physician-directed occupational health company, said it has developed a program for its clients that would require patrons to buy tickets two weeks in advance and download an app from the company.
Patrons then would undergo a series of screenings before they are allowed in, said Dr. Anthony Harris, WorkCare’s chief innovation officer and associate medical director for onsite clinical operations.
The new employee and customer health and safety programs have to be comprehensive enough, Harris said, “to build assurances to the patrons that these employers and these venders have done the necessary steps to protect you the patron. We’re calling it the COVID-Clear Zone, to protect the patrons.
“It’s a process that begins two weeks before the patrons show up. These patrons are buying tickets two months in advance. If you’re trying to get on The Price is Right, you’re not going to just show up,” Harris said. “So they’re poised and ready obviously to show up, and to show up prepared. And part of that preparation now is participating in the screening process that we’ve put in place, for 14 days. That’s an assurance that every patron that shows up that day, in the future, has gone through the same process to minimize COVID-19 exposure.”
His company has developed multiple-step strategies for live-audience shows, big box stores, and manufacturers, and is in talks with national sports and theme parks, he said.
Harris said the technologies are available and the lead times are often practical for many attractions to do so. Consequently, advance purchases may become required at more and more places, he predicted.
“We believe so,” he said. “When you’re traveling and planning trips, you’re not doing so last minute. Any travel is well-premeditated and not a whim, because of all these different circumstances. And so we anticipate that this would be a minor step in the overall planning.”
The procedure is set up now to handle thousands of patrons a day, he said.
“It’s absolutely scalable. We went from zero to 20,000 workers in 72 hours, with one of our employers, meaning we started screening 20,000 workers every single day,” Harris said.