NIAGARA FALLS & BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — The Western New York region is expected to move into Phase Four of the NY Forward reopening plan next week. That means local attractions like the Aquarium of Niagara and The Buffalo Zoo can once again have visitors.
"Yeah, it has been a long time in coming but we are really excited to be moving forward with our reopening plans for early next week," said Gary Siddall, Executive Director for the Aquarium.
"We are all excited and the animals are excited as well. We do have some animals that miss the people," added Norah Fletchall, President & CEO of The Buffalo Zoo.
Under the Phase Four reopening rules, both facilities will have to limit guests to 25% of capacity and visitors will be required to wear face coverings (masks).
In addition, there are some extra things to keep in mind:
Aquarium of Niagara:
- Interactive exhibits are temporarily closed.
- Groups will be required to stay together.
- Viewing at the Aquarium's large indoor tanks (California Sea Lions and penguins) can only be done at designated spots.
- People will be required to follow pathways marked with fish decals on the floor throughout the Aquarium.
- Annual membership holders are having their memberships and benefits extended to make up for the time they were unable to visit the aquarium during the Covid-19 crisis.
- The "M&T Bank Shark & Ray Bay," scheduled to be opened in June 2020, is still under construction. The pandemic caused delays in getting supplies for the construction of the new exhibit. The plan is to have it opened in the next few months.
The Buffalo Zoo
- The zoo has installed numerous new hand sanitizing stations everywhere.
- Even though many exhibits are outside, there will still be rules for social distancing. That includes signs marking 'One-Way' pedestrian routes and 'No-Exit' routes.
- Some indoor areas will remain closed.
- Concessions stands will be open for 'grab-and-go' only.
- The Buffalo Zoo is using a cashless system to avoid having money passed.
- Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time online (No tickets sold at the entrance gates).
- When purchasing tickets, you must also choose a time of arrival. The zoo will be controlling when groups of people can enter to make sure a cleaning team has enough time to do its job between the groups.
- The Buffalo Zoo will be closed on Tuesday's to allow for deep cleaning.
- A team of five people will be dedicated to cleaning surfaces throughout the day.
- The zoo is hoping people will consider buying memberships to help offset the deficit it incurred because of Covid-19 closure.
- The Buffalo Zoo plans to release more details about how to purchase online tickets and pick visit times over the next few days.