COVID-19 leads to new regulations at pumpkin patches, haunted houses this fall

VIDEO: COVID-19 leads to new regulations at pumpkin patches, haunted houses this fall

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Pumpkin patches, corn mazes and haunted houses would typically open this time of year, but because of COVID-19, there are new restrictions.

Rutledge Farm in Olympia plans to reopen Sept. 26.

When guests arrive at the farm, some attractions will be different.

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General manager Robbie Rutledge said the cow train is one of the most popular attractions at Rutledge Farm. Kids can soon start hopping aboard again, but they’ll have to keep a distance this year.

“If it’s one family, they’ll get to be within the first four cars,” said Rutledge. “We’ll skip a car, and then we’ll move into the next ones.”

Rutledge is thankful he can open this fall.

“We only have six weeks to make all the money to live off of for the entire year,” he said.

There will be changes, including no zip line, haunted paintball, food or farm animal feeding. Masks are mandated, everything is sanitized frequently and people have to spread out.

This year, guests can pick pumpkins, get spooked at the haunted forest, play fall games and get lost in the corn maze.

“That’s on six acres, so we’re feeling really comfortable with timed ticketing on being able to safely distance people,” said Rutledge.

While some outdoor activities are open, indoor haunted houses, like My Morbid Mind in Lacey, have to stay closed.

Owner Kevin Noah feels the rule is unfair. He said his haunted house is safe because people walk in one direction, stay in small groups and actors already wear masks.

However, the governor’s office considers haunted houses indoor family entertainment, which can’t reopen until Phase 4.

“We just want to understand why we can’t be open and why we got put into live entertainment when nobody from the governor’s office has come down to one haunted house to see what it’s really all about,” said Noah.

My Morbid Mind has been in business for 10 years and scares thousands of people every October.

Noah fears the COVID-19 closure could be catastrophic for his bottom line.

“There’s so many businesses that I’ve watched suffer and close doors, and we could be next if I can’t pay my rent in November,” he said.