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The Living Desert to reopen as an ‘outdoor recreation facility’ after regional stay home order closed zoos

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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert has announced plans to reopen limited operations. The zoo has not been open to the public since California's recent regional stay home orders mandated the closure of many business sectors, including zoos, museums, and aquariums.

The facility now plans to reopen daytime operations with modifications, by operating as an outdoor recreation facility.

"The original mandate from the State of California included zoos, however, The Living Desert does not fit the traditional zoo definition with its vast hiking trails and more than 50 botanical gardens," a zoo spokesperson tells News Channel 3 in astatement.

"To adhere to the State of California's outdoor recreational facility operating requirements, The Living Desert will close all food and beverage outlets, areas of gathering, indoor exhibits, giraffe feeding, and the carousel. Advanced reservations are required for all admissions including members and guests. In addition, face coverings continue to be required for all guests over 3 years of age."

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert had recently opened the popular holiday event Wildlights, with precautions for pandemic safety.

News Channel 3's Caitlin Thropay will have a full report on how things will change and what will be different if you visit. It's ahead at 6:00 p.m. on News Channel 3.

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What does the Regional Stay Home Order do? 

Information from the state of California:

The Regional Stay Home Order instructs Californians to stay at home as much as possible and to stop mixing between households that can lead to COVID-19 spread. It allows access to critical services and allows outdoor activities to preserve Californians’ physical and mental health. The Regional Stay Home Order will help stop the surge and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity. 

Under the order, the following sectors are allowed to remain open with safety precautions: 

  • Critical infrastructure (when remote option is not possible)
  • Schools
  • Non-urgent medical and dental care
  • Child care and pre-K

The following sectors will have additional modifications in addition to 100% masking and physical distancing:

  • Outdoor recreational facilities: Allow outdoor operation only for the purpose of facilitating physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise, without any food, drink or alcohol sales. Additionally, overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.
  • Retail: Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity, and 35% of capacity for standalone grocery stores, with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. 
  • Shopping centers: Allow indoor access at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Hotels and lodging: Allow for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, provide accommodation for essential workers, or providing housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations.
  • Restaurants: Allow only for take out or delivery.
  • Offices: Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible. 
  • Places of worship and political expression: Allow outdoor activities only.
  • Entertainment production: Industries, studios, and other related establishments such as establishments that provide content for professional broadcast can operate without live audiences.

In any region that triggers a Regional Stay Home Order because it drops below 15% ICU capacity all operations in the following sectors must be closed (except to the extent that their operations fall within critical infrastructure):

  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Personal care services
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • Movie theaters (except drive-in)
  • Wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries (with exception for production, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale for off-site consumption)
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Limited services
  • Live audience sports
  • Amusement parks

Stay up-to-date with the latest local coronavirus news, including reopenings and closing, new case data, live news conferences, and other updates at KESQ.com/Coronavirus or download the News Channel 3 app on the Apple Store and Google Play.

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KESQ News Team

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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