What New York ski resorts are doing to keep skiers and snowboarders safe this winter amidst the coronavirus pandemic
Ski season has officially arrived after the coronavirus pandemic abruptly cut last year’s season short. Ski resorts in New York (and across the nation) are starting to reopen for the winter season with new COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions.
Dan Toth, marketing and communications manager at Windham Mountain, says “opening our resort back up has been great not only on a professional level but on a personal one too, as we get to go back to doing what we love, and we get to see our guests come back and enjoy it too… it’s a big deal for us and it feels really good.”
While being out on the slopes may appear to be a COVID-friendly activity—with people outdoors, socially distanced, and using face coverings—there are many other risks ski resorts may endure. To combat this, resorts have implemented new rules and procedures that will help keep staff and guests safe.
How New York Area Ski Resorts Are Keeping Guests Safe from COVID-19
Earlier this fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that ski resorts in New York can reopen with 50-percent indoor capacity and strict health and safety protocols under state-issued guidance starting Nov. 6. Reopening ski resorts in New York “will allow New Yorkers to have some outdoor activity this winter without having to quarantine when they come back,” he said.
New York state’s guidelines for skiing during the pandemic include:
- Masks required at all times unless eating, drinking, or skiing.
- Social distancing between parties required at all times.
- Gondolas and lifts are restricted to members of the same party.
- Ski lessons are limited to no more than 10 people.
- Shared/rented equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- Shuttles, food and beverage, and retail service must conform to state-issued guidance.
- Outdoor capacity on mountains must be reduced by 25 percent during “peak” days or if multiple trails are closed due to unseasonable conditions.
Many resorts, including Windham Mountain, have introduced new COVID-19 teams who are responsible for the health and safety of guests and employees. These teams have implemented vital changes to their resorts in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition, indoor lodge capacity will be restricted to 50-percent occupancy during the winter, so Toth advises visitors to treat their cars as a personal locker room and limit indoor lodge use as much as possible.
Finally, Toth recommends all visitors review their favorite resort’s website before arrival to better understand the changes that are being enforced, as most (if not all) resorts have COVID-19 pages on their websites, listing health and safety updates for the season. This “living-and-breathing document is constantly being updated with the newest and most relevant COVID-19 safety information and regulations,” according to Toth.
Plan Your Ski Trip in Advance
Guests should plan their visits to the slopes ahead of time, given that most resorts will require reservations with capacity restrictions in place. Windham Mountain has created a capacity calendar with “red days” for when there are significant capacity restrictions in place and “green days” for when there are no anticipated capacity restrictions. This way, guests can plan their visits accordingly and purchase necessary tickets ahead of time.
Most resorts in New York have also shifted to a reservation system for renting equipment, so it’s crucial for visitors without gear to book rental appointments and reserve lift tickets in advance.
Skiing remains a low-risk, quarantine-free activity in New York state, so New Yorkers should take advantage if they can respect coronavirus protocol. However, with infection rates rising across the state, visitors may see tighter restrictions implemented during the holiday period and in the upcoming weeks. Remember to be patient and prepared to adapt to a few new changes during this new and unusual season.
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