World-renowned Perris skydiving business goes back into operation Saturday

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PERRIS (CNS) – A world famous Perris-based skydiving operation that closed down nearly 10 weeks ago in the face of local and state mandates connected to the coronavirus pandemic will reopen on a limited basis this weekend.

Skydive Perris posted an announcement online notifying clients that, starting Saturday, parachutists who need recertification training and those who are current in their certification but just want to take flight will be invited to join jumps through the weekend — under conditions that safeguard health.

The move to reopen was made after Riverside County was granted a regional variance Friday by the governor and California Department of Public Health, permitting the county to advance through the state’s four-stage deregulation plan intended to relax controls that Gov. Gavin Newsom put in place on March 19 to mitigate COVID-19 exposure risks.

“We have been … consulting with trusted medical professionals in our effort to develop a plan for how best to responsibly reopen while also maintaining the safest environment possible for all our jumpers,” Skydive Perris General Manager Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld said in a statement. “With a little time, (we will) hopefully be returning to near normal in the not-too-distant-future.”

The facility closed down on the weekend of March 21-22.

According to Brodsky-Chenfeld, Skydive Perris will only operate on weekends for the next few weeks, but schedules may change abruptly. The weekends will be reserved for  experienced jumpers, and all those who take part will be required to self-assess their conditions. If anyone has tested positive for COVID-19, had known recent exposure to a viral individual or traveled outside the country in the previous two weeks, he or she will be asked not to enter Perris Valley Airport.

The policy will be largely based on the honor system. However, a Skydive Perris staff member will be conducting pre-screenings, asking questions and taking everyone’s temperature prior to entry, according to the facility’s website.

Officials said jumpers will be required to wear face coverings and will be asked to frequently sanitize their hands.

In March, Brodsky-Chenfeld told City News Service that the March to May period was generally the most profitable for Skydive Perris, and heavy revenue losses were predicted. All of the facility’s 130 employees were let go before the end of March.

Before the county public health officer’s and governor’s restrictions on gatherings went into effect, Skydive Perris instructors attempted to enforce social distancing and sanitary requirements, but it was untenable because “we have to function in a very close environment,” Brodsky-Chenfled said at the time.

Skydive Perris was conducting about 50 flights per day, seven days a week prior to the shutdown.

“It adds up to 1,000 jumps a day,” Brodsky-Chenfeld said. “People travel from all over to do this. Just like people go to all corners of the globe for a vacation, people come here for skydiving vacations.”

Jump prices range from $29 to $1,000, depending on the size of each group, whether the jumps will involve tandem drops from 13,000 feet and other conditions.

Brodsky-Chenfeld estimated that 50% of the operation’s business is tied to jump training and parachuting in the March-May period. Most of Skydive Perris’ clients are not required to pay in advance, so the business only had to provide refunds to about 100 customers who had reserved space in March, he said.

The veteran skydiver had little to which to compare the operational disruption.

“It’s crazy. I’ve never gone through anything like this,” he said.

“After 9/11, aviation was down for a short while, but even that didn’t have the same impact as this. It was a different situation obviously, but it was not on this magnitude.”