Audubon Aquarium of the Americas gets ready to welcome back guests for the first time after a four-month closure due to COVID-19 on Thursday, July 16.
Audubon Nature Institute announced plans to reopen to the public after making essential modifications to ensure a safe visit for guests, following guidance from City and State officials.
As part of the new guidelines, online reservations will be required for all guests, including Audubon Members, to limit the number of guests inside the Aquarium and support physical distancing.
The Aquarium will also limit capacity to under 25 percent, allowing only 100 new guests to enter the aquarium per half hour.
During the closure, Audubon Nature Institute says its staff continued to care for its more than 15,000 animals while consulting with experts across the country to develop a comprehensive reopening plan that will ensure the health and safety of its visitors, staff, volunteers, and animals.
Read more from FOX 8: The Audubon Aquarium details safety rules on the eve of reopening
“Along with setting strict attendance limits, additional safety initiatives include stringent cleaning protocols, physical distancing signage, and requiring staff wear appropriate PPE,” said Audubon executive vice president and COO Kyle Burks. “In accordance with City health guidelines, masks will also be required for all guests visiting our indoor facilities, such as the Aquarium. Although the City is not requiring face coverings for outdoor recreation if social distancing is maintained, we strongly encourage guests to wear a mask while visiting Audubon Zoo as well.”
Audubon typically welcomes 750,000 visitors over the summer months and is estimating nearly an 80 percent decrease this year due to limited capacity, pausing groups and field trips, and decreased tourism visitation. Audubon’s estimated loss of revenue directly related to its facility closures from March to June was approximately $21 million.
Although the Aquarium is reopening, Audubon will cancel its fee-based summer camps, private event rentals at all facilities through August as well as Scales & Ales, it’s annual fall Aquarium fundraiser.
“We are an organization built on hope and our ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Audubon president and CEO Ron Forman. “Over the years, the Audubon has made historic comebacks, resurrecting a neglected Zoo to a world-class facility and rebuilding from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Our response to this challenge will be no exception. Together, we will get through this and come out the other side stronger than ever.”
Audubon Aquarium will open Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets can be reserved here.