Tri-Cities ‘large attractions’ await reopening guidance


(WJHL)- Tennessee’s Economic Recovery group says it will issue new guidelines this week for large, non-contact attractions to reopen on or after May 22nd. The guidance will be aimed at racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters and dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums, and more, according to the Governor’s Office. On Monday, several Tri-Cities attractions said they are awaiting these guidelines.

As an attraction that centers around physical touch – Hands On! Discovery Center plans to deep-clean exhibits at least four times a day when they reopen.

“We’re not just taking a bottle of Lysol. We’re doing things that are heavy-duty, heavy-grade, really effective cleaner,” said Hands On! President & CEO Andy Marquart.

Hands On! Discovery Center

Marquart said the museum plans to reopen in early to mid-June with limited hours. A survey is up on the Hands On! website asking for visitor input as they prepare to resume operations.

“We’re still waiting on the exact protocols from the state on what the Executive Orders will be, so we have to plan around that,” he said.

Hands On! will likely only allow 50 visitors inside at a time and pre-sell tickets. Open exhibits will rotate throughout the day.

“So some exhibits will be offline for a little bit,” said Marquart. “And then we’ll clean them and bring them online and shut off some other exhibits. That’ll encourage social distancing, but also keep everything disinfected and clean for everyone.”

Other area attractions have reopening plans in the works. The Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts told News Channel 11 the Kingsport Carousel will likely reopen June 3rd, also with limited hours and strict sanitation practices. Mask-wearing will be encouraged.

Wetlands Waterpark in Jonesborough is also making preliminary plans to potentially reopen. The Jonesborough BMA is expected to discuss the possibility at a meeting tomorrow.

Additionally, the Kingsport Speedway is revving its engine to welcome back fans. No races are happening yet, but visitors can watch practices according to General Manager Karen Tunnell.

“We’ve been trying to have practice now for the last couple weeks, going by the social distancing guidelines with less than 10 people,” said Tunnel. “So we’re getting to add more cars and just more excitement, just trying to get this season finally started.”

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