SUNAPEE, N.H. (CBS) – Skiing and snowboarding will look different this winter as resorts institute their own COVID precautions.
Vail Resorts, which owns 34 North American ski resorts, including several in the northeast, said while it does plan to fully open resorts, it will take strict COVID-19 precautions this ski season – in some cases, stricter than local requirements.
“Given how fluid and ever-changing the situation with COVID-19 is, it has also been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of this season. We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactive changes,” said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts.
Resort employees will be required to have a health screening before starting work, and guests must wear face coverings and social distance. When social distancing is not possible, such as during lessons, guests will be asked to complete an online health screening.
“We will also strongly recommend that guests wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces throughout our resort towns and will continue to encourage our communities to make this a requirement,” Katz said.
Also this year, reservations will be required to ski or snowboard. The early part of the season will be reserved for pass holders, and lift tickets will not go on sale until Dec. 8. All reservations must be made online or through the resort’s call center. Ticketing windows at resorts will not sell lift tickets this year.
Lifts will operate at about half-capacity, and skiers and snowboarders who are not in the same party will not be seated next to each other on the lifts. Katz acknowledged that lifts were outside, where coronavirus risk is lower, but said guests who were not in the same party would be seated across from each other on lifts and must keep their faces covered.
Restaurants will also see changes this year, with reduced capacity, limited menus and increased space between tables. Beer and wine will be served, but resorts will not offer a full bar.
In New England, Vail Resorts operates Mount Sunapee, in Newbury, New Hampshire; Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont; Okemo in Ludlow, Vermont; Stowe in Stowe, Vermont; Attitash in Bartlett, New Hampshire; Crotched in Greenfield, New Hampshire; and Wildcat in Gorham, New Hampshire.