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Monterey County’s number-one tourist attraction, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is temporarily shutting down through at least March 27, due to COVID-19, aquarium representatives announced on Thursday, March 12. The Aquarium closed at 5pm Thursday.

The decision came following the governor’s executive order canceling large gatherings to limit the spread of coronavirus, for the health and safety of visitors, volunteers and employees, the announcement said.

A limited number of essential staff, including security, facilities control room and animal care teams will report to work during the closure for the welfare of the animals inside. Non-essential staff will work remotely. All employees will be paid, regardless of job responsibilities and ability to work remotely.

“Staff remaining on site have been advised of appropriate social distancing methods and have access to personal protective gear if necessary,” it said.

The Aquarium is taking the opportunity to deep clean the facilities using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

“We understand this closure is an inconvenience for visitors that have planned a trip to the Aquarium and we apologize. Our top priority is the health of our guests who come to be inspired by the ocean, as well as the staff who make the Aquarium work and the community that has welcomed us as a neighbor for 30 years,” the announcement reads.

The Aquarium also promised to work with guests who had purchased tickets to reschedule their visit or obtain refunds.

Although the public cannot go in, the good news is that most of the web cams were working the next day, so anyone with internet access around the world is still able to tune in during daytime hours to see the jelly fish, kelp forest, penguins, sharks and other exhibits. (The Monterey Bay cam operates 24 hours a day.)

On Friday afternoon, more than 46,300 people were watching the very popular Jelly Cam. The Aquarium streamed it on social media with the headline, "The Jelly Cam is here for you."

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