Minnesota's largest outdoor waterpark won't be opening for the 2020 season.
The Anoka County Board of Commissioners voted at its Tuesday meeting to keep the Bunker Beach Water Park for the 2020 season "as a public safety measure amid the coronavirus outbreak."
The 9-acre waterpark in Bunker Hills Regional Park has 6 water slides, a lazy river, and Minnesota's largest wave pool, and typically opens between June and September.
But with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which state health officials estimate could peak in June, having already led to the shuttering of beaches and waterparks in Minneapolis, Anoka County is following suit with Bunker Beach.
The park averages 1,500-1,800 visitors a day when open, and employs 150 staff each season.
Even if Gov. Tim Walz lifts the Stay at Home restriction on May 4, Minnesota and indeed the rest of the U.S. is expected to continue observing social distancing guidelines for many months to come.
"Being able to operate the water park for the season, hire and train seasonal staff, enforce social distancing guidelines that may still be in place in the coming months, and sanitize all public surfaces at an increased level would have created obstacles in ensuring the safety of guests," the Board of Commissioners said.
Anyone who bought season-long passes for the waterpark will receive a full refund.
"This was a tough decision for the County Board, as Bunker Beach has been a fixture of summer entertainment in Anoka County for more than 30 years,” said Commissioner Mike Gamache, chair of the county’s parks committee.
"Public safety is our primary concern with all our county facilities, and due to the spread of this virus and the challenges it poses, operating Bunker Beach this season would have been very difficult. We look forward to opening the waterpark again for the 2021 season."