South Korea is one of the few countries that has not closed its theme parks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has two of the most visited ones in the world: Everland, owned by Samsung, and Lotte World, belonging to the multinational Lotte Corporation. One of the first reasons why the country has allowed itself to manage the parks in a globally unique way, is its response to the health crisis. Since the first case was recorded on January 20, the response from the South Korean authorities was based on three principles: test, trace and contain.
In a matter of days, the government developed the ability to test between 12,000 and 20,000 people a day, in test centres that were accessible by car and without an appointment. It also launched mobile centres that carried out the test in 10 minutes and free of charge. In less than 24 hours, citizens received the results on their mobile phones. Those who tested positive were asked to report their contact with other people and their movements, information that was complemented by the tracking of their telephones, the recording of security cameras and credit card transactions. All this data allowed the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to issue real-time alerts about places with the presence of infected people before they knew it. Of course, citizen cooperation was also required and people were asked to implement social distancing, whilst companies were encouraged to allow teleworking. With almost 51.5 million inhabitants, the number of those affected gives an idea of the management’s success: only 255 deaths and a curve of cases practically at the level of 0 infected today.
However, although the country’s theme parks are open and operating, a series of health safety measures have been implemented in them. The following are exceptional measures for the prevention of coronavirus infection in parks in South Korea:
- The use of masks is mandatory to access the park, and can be purchased at the same entrance.
- The body temperature of each visitor is controlled before entering.
- Users have disinfectant gel dispensers available at different points in the park.
- The safety distance must be kept at all times in the facilities.
- The attractions and sections of the park where the safety distance is not possible, have been closed.
- The parades and shows have been cancelled.
- The parks have reduced their opening hours. Everland, for example, closes its doors an hour before it did before the crisis.
- Finally, and again in the case of Everland, customers’ annual passes will be valid for a further 30 days, to compensate them for the inconvenience.
Without a doubt, the measures in Everland and Lotte World will serve as an example around the world for those parks that are still closed, or that are beginning to open timidly, to establish the “new normal”.