U.S. Skiing To Have New Health And Safety Rules In 2021


In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, things are changing everywhere and this includes ski resorts in the U.S.

The world is still reeling as the coronavirus pandemic continues. When it comes to travel, changes are being put in place all over the world. This will also affect skiing in the U.S., which will see a new set of health and safety rules this winter season.

Skiing In The ‘New Normal’

As it heads into fall in the northern hemisphere, winter is swiftly approaching, and with it the urge to ski. As with every activity in 2021, resorts are focusing on health and safety measures to protect employees and visitors. The resorts are focusing on minimizing crowds, keeping numbers down, and creating safe spaces for guests to enjoy their winter season.

One of these is Vail, which is among the largest ski resorts in the U.S. Management recently sent an open letter to its 34 locations across North America in which they highlight the key changes for the coming 2021 season.

Among the changes are that face masks will be mandatory in designated areas of the resorts. This includes inside the lodge, in lift lines, gondolas, and chairlifts, and in ski school groups. CEO Rob Katz said the requirement is similar to that required by other tourist destinations. He said they must ensure face coverings are “not optional” for guests when they are walking around the resorts with a drink or snack in their hands.

Social Distancing On The Ski Slopes

Besides face coverings, a new reservation system is being set up to maintain physical distance on the slopes. Limits on lift tickets will also be introduced to prioritize pass holders. Throughout the resorts, signage will be placed to remind guests to stay six feet apart. Guests will also only ride chairlifts and gondolas with those people in their existing group. Regrettably, lift lines will likely move slower in order to accommodate the new measures.

Reinventing The Winter Sports Experience

As the mountain resorts reopen this season, each is looking to reinvent the winter sports experience to suit these dramatically changing times. Resort owners and staff will be in place to assure guests the new protocols will keep them safe. However, they will also need to enforce the rules, as they will only work with full compliance by guests.

Katz said they are fortunate that their core experience of skiing and riding takes place outdoors. This gives guests access to huge mountains and plenty of wide-open spaces and fresh air for them to enjoy. However, he did say that some changes are required this winter season to protect not only their guests but also their employees and surrounding communities during the pandemic. He continued, “It has been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of the 2021 season. We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactionary changes.”

Park City, Utah Is Making Changes

Other locations are making changes, including Park City in Utah, where the resort will no longer accept walk-up tickets. Reservations will be required in order to access the mountains during this season. Their spokesperson said that for the vast majority of days, they anticipate their “mountains will be able to accommodate everyone who wants to ski or ride at our resorts.”

In Lake Tahoe, Homewood Mountain Resort is set to limit season-pass sales and will cap daily lift tickets in peak times. In Oregon, Timberline Lodge and Ski Resort are requesting that guests only visit the resort with members of their household. Guests will be requested to complete health questionnaires and to wear cloth masks in all public spaces. Timberline notes on its website that their resort is a “responsible part of the community and doing the right thing is at our foundation.” The company asks guests to count on them to do that and they are counting on guests to also do their part.

New Protocols Elsewhere In The U.S.

New protocols are likely to be announced in most ski resorts across the U.S. ahead of the new season. Lodges will likely restrict their capacity, so people should book well in advance to avoid disappointment, wherever they plan to go. Planning is also important to ensure a good time on the slopes. Guests should also ensure they pack a mask, buy their tickets online and ensure they understand all the resort’s rules, as well as the local state’s public health guidelines.

With careful planning, skiers can still have a great winter season in the U.S. Things will just run a little differently in 2021.

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