Aquarium visitors

The Monterey Bay Aquarium normally draws about 2 million visitors per year. 

The plan was that the Monterey Bay Aquarium would be open by now, serving a limited number of visitors on timed tickets (to avoid overcrowding) and they would have a sense of their new economic reality. 

But that plan was not to be. Due to a rising Covid-19 case count in Monterey County, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed health officials to reverse course on reopening certain sectors, including zoos and museums. That set back the Aquarium's intended opening day—and continued economic uncertainty. 

In an email to Aquarium staff today, July 27, Executive Director Julie Packard wrote that most currently furloughed staff will be laid off. 

This comes about three months after the Aquarium announced a staff reduction of 38 percent, with 93 employees laid off and 128 furloughed. In addition, executive leadership took a 20-percent pay cut and all remaining employees who earn more than $100,000 per year received a 10-percent reduction in salary in April. Those cuts are scheduled to last through the end of 2020.

Today's announcement is that 84 of those furloughed workers, plus three active staff, are being laid off. 

"We had originally told our furloughed staff that we would let them know by the end of September after we had a couple of months of post-reopening attendance and operations data to draw from, but with no reopening date in sight and no change in the unfavorable earned revenue outlook, we felt it best to let people know as soon as possible that their jobs won't be restored this fall," Packard wrote. 

The Aquarium will continue to cover their health insurance costs through the end of September. 

In a press release issued on July 28, the Aquarium notes it is facing a loss of 65 percent of its annual revenue, projecting losses of $45 million this year. “This painful and difficult decision was made after careful consideration of the resources necessary to maintain the health and welfare of the animals, as well as our facilities, in light of our projected revenue losses and not being able to open as originally planned,” Packard said in the statement.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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(1) comment

Lou Richards

With all the money at the Packard family disposal, it seems odd that they can't keep the aquarium open and all of their loyal employee on the payroll. People will lose healthcare (after a while), income, housing (perhaps), seniority, and a host of other things. The aquarium will lose knowledge, experience, and their excellent staff. Come on, take care of your loyal family.

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