Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific is swimming ahead with plans to fully reopen next week with capacity capped at 25 percent, officials announced.
“We have survived, and our animals have thrived the last year only because of the support of our donors, help from the city of Long Beach, and dedication of our staff. With our reopening, we can continue to give back to our communities through our educational programs and provide an experience for visitors that embodies spring and recovery,” Dr. Peter Kareiva, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO, said Friday.
“A weight has been lifted,” he said. “Our mischievous sea otters, beautiful lorikeets, endearing penguins, sleek sharks, and my favorite -- Groot, our giant pacific octopus await you.''
The reopening comes as Los Angeles County, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, advances to a less-restrictive tier in the state's “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” moving out of the most restrictive “purple” tier and into the “red” tier as COVID-19 case rates decline and vaccine rates climb.
Long Beach, which has its own health department, will follow the state's guidelines to allow the aquarium, as well museums, to be among the businesses allowed to open inside spaces under the “red” tier, at reduced capacity.
“After careful planning and discussions with the city of Long Beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific has announced that the entire aquarium will be fully open at 25% capacity to the public on Tuesday, March 16, and to aquarium members on Monday, March 15, with safety protocols and advance reservations,” aquarium officials said Friday.
It's welcome news for the regional tourist attraction, which has taken such a financial hit since closing indoor operations last year that the Long Beach City Council approved a $5 million loan to help it.
“It means we can start bringing back some staff who have suffered through reduced hours or who were furloughed so they can do the job they love to and want to do,” Kareiva said. “It means we can start to recoup the huge economic losses of the last year; it means everything to us.”
As part of its safety protocols, the aquarium is limiting the number of visitors, requiring advance timed reservations for everyone, offering hand sanitizing stations and managing traffic flow to ensure appropriate social distancing.
The aquarium also requires masks for everyone age 2 and older and temperature checks for everyone. More details are available on at aquariumofpacific.org.