Monterey Bay Aquarium to reopen in July with new rules

A file photo shows a sea otter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced Monday it plans to reopen to visitors next month after being closed since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus. 

Members and donors can begin visiting the world-renowned fixture on July 9, with four days devoted to these supporters before its open for the public on July 13, according to a release posted to the aquarium’s website. 

The aquarium said the four-month closure has been particularly tough, noting the community support it relies on. “We’ve missed welcoming our visitors to the Aquarium and have been looking forward to this day,” said Executive Director Julie Packard. “Social media and our online experiences have allowed us to stay connected with people virtually, but there is no substitute for connecting with favorite exhibits and animals in real life.” 

Visitors should expect changes to the traditional flow of the aquarium, as staff works to meet challenges caused by COVID-19. A limited number of visitors will be allowed in the facility at a time. All guests, staff, and volunteers ages three and older will be required to wear a face mask and must follow social distancing practices. There will be one-way paths through the exhibits and staff will be frequently cleaning the building. 


Online-only ticket sales will be available on the company's website starting July 1 and there will be no in-person ticket sales for walk-up customers. Timed-entry tickets will be sold in 30-minute blocks to keep the number of guests down to 250 per hour. Guests will be required to confirm a public health screening statement before entering. The aquarium will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and timed-entry slots will be available until 3:30 p.m. 

As part of California's gradual reopening plan, Governor Newsom on June 12 cleared museums, galleries, zoos, and aquariums to reopen, provided they follow the state's guidance. The facilities were instructed to discontinue tours that mix groups of people, use one-way halls and walkways when possible, and get rid of audio headsets. 

Nearly all of the aquarium's exhibits and galleries will be open, with those that don’t allow for social distancing being the exception. The one-way paths designed to safely guide visitors through the aquarium can be repeated as many times as time allows. One path takes visitors through the Ocean’s Edge wing and the other goes through the Open Sea wing.  

“People can expect an outstanding experience that puts the well-being of our guests, staff and volunteers front and center,” Packard said.