By Kristina Rex

PRINCETON (CBS) – A nor’easter brings a foot of snow to much of the state. Many people are working from home, and several indoor activities have been deemed unsafe due to a pandemic. What’s the solution? For about 1,000 people in Massachusetts Thursday, the answer was skiing.

Wachusett Mountain is allowing less than half of its 4100-person capacity to ski at one time right now, and is asking customers to reserve passes online for certain days and times to keep track of the crowds. On Thursday night, those passes were sold out and some people who wanted to were unable to ski on the fresh snow.

Wachusett Mountain (WBZ-TV)

“The phone just rings off the hook,” owner Jeff Crowley told WBZ. As of Thursday night, passes were nearly sold out through the whole weekend as well. It’s a welcome boost for business from Mother Nature, Crowley said. After multiple mild winters, and with COVID-19 capacity restrictions, any snow helps.

“Natural snow is better to ski on,” Crowley said. “As much as I like machine made snow, the ideal setting now is to have machine made snow as a base and have the natural snow on top.”

People out skiing Thursday night agreed. “We probably wouldn’t have made the two hour trip if there hadn’t been fresh snow,” Amanda Bobola of Rhode Island said. “I’m a teacher, and I actually did parent teacher conferences from my headset on the mountain for two hours. I was like ‘I’m not letting parent conferences stop me. We are going skiing.’”

COVID-19 restrictions are in place at Wachusett Mountain (WBZ-TV)

All around the mountain grounds there are arrows pointing to one-way walkways, signs to remind you to wear your mask and social distance, and increased outdoor seating. Regardless of the obvious COVID-19 safety cues, skiers told WBZ it really doesn’t feel all that different. “You usually wear a mask anyways,” Gene Thibeault said.

Crowley is hoping the outdoor experience — albeit, with capacity limitations — is the key to a successful winter on the mountain.

“I think this is the place to be,” he said. “I think it was a golf course in the summer and now the ski area in the winter.”

Kristina Rex