VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Beaches in Virginia Beach are opening up Friday, but another big tourist attraction remains closed - the Virginia Aquarium.
They're hoping to reopen next month, and when they do, you will see big changes at the popular spot that's taken a big financial hit from COVID-19.
I sat down with Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis, the President and CEO of the Aquarium. She says right now, they’re estimating that they’ve lost $4 million in revenue just from the closure on March 16 through mid-June.
Whitbred-Spanoulis says the Aquarium’s city budget will take a million-dollar hit. Because of that, they’re looking at some changes to their programs, which include closing their giant-screen 3D theater for good.
You can check out more of our conversation below:
Q: Are there any unique protocols that your staff is having to follow in providing care for the animals?
We do have some animals that we want to make sure are cared for that may be susceptible to COVID-19, and so for those animals, we are wearing the PPE when we prepare their food as well as when we feed them or do enrichment with them.
So, there are some animals, maybe mammals, that are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 than other animals, so we just want to be extra cautious so we don't expose our animals to anything unnecessarily.
Q: Once you get a reopening date, how will COVID-19 impact what we normally experience and see?
So, you'll buy your tickets online. We won't be selling tickets as you walk up; they will be timed tickets, and we'll be limiting that capacity to about 100 every half hour. You'd have a specific time that you could arrive with that ticket.
In addition, [there will be] social distancing inside the aquarium. We'll have those markings on the floor like you see when you go to the grocery store.
We're just following some of the protocols that we're seeing come out from other zoos and aquariums as well as some of the guidelines we're hearing come down from the state. I don't know how long this will last.
The Aquarium is hoping to open in mid-June.
And if you want to take action and help with fundraising, next month, they’ll be holding their first virtual 5K. All the proceeds going to the care of the animals as well as the aquarium's stranding center.
For information on that, click here.
Plus, here's how you can donate right now.