State gives ski areas proposed guidelines for COVID-19 operating plans, asks for public feedback

With three ski areas already making snow in anticipation of opening soon, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued proposed guidelines on Wednesday mandating that resorts work out operational plans for pandemic mitigation in collaboration with local public health authorities, which would then need to be approved by CDPHE.

Ski areas, community officials, business owners and the public have until Friday at 10 a.m. to submit feedback before guidelines are finalized.

As outlined in an 11-page document, CDPHE wants ski areas to develop plans with local public health departments regarding capacity numbers as well as requirements for social distancing on the mountains, in lift lines, in base areas and parking lots; configuration of gondola seating to achieve social distancing; ensuring masks are worn “to the maximum extent possible,” indoors and outdoors, in ski schools, on chairlifts and gondolas with exceptions for eating “or while actively engaged in skiing, riding” or other outdoor activities; managing crowd sizes to ensure that indoor spaces don’t become places of “gathering or congregation,” and making sure social distancing is maintained in restrooms and locker rooms.

Related: What is the outlook for snow in Colorado ski country this winter?

As a practical matter, ski areas across the state already were working with local public health officials to formulate approved plans for opening.

At Loveland ski area, where snowmaking operations began on Monday, spokesman John Sellers said the guidelines issued Wednesday came as no surprise, adding that the ski industry’s trade association, Colorado Ski Country USA, has been working with state officials.

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“We do not anticipate any delays to our opening day,” Sellers said.

Related: Which Colorado ski resorts will require reservations this winter?

Colorado Ski Country USA represents 22 of the state’s 28 resorts — all but the five Vail Resorts areas and Wolf Creek.

“We appreciate the state’s efforts to work with the industry, local public health officials and counties to craft guidance that sets the stage for a long, successful ski season from a ski industry, public health and local community perspective,” Ski Country president Melanie Mills said in a statement. “Finalizing this guidance is an important step as ski areas across the state gear up for ski season and finalize their own area-specific plans for this winter.”

Chris Linsmayer, Ski County’s public affairs director, said he does not expect the guidelines to delay ski area openings. “At this point it’s much more dictated by weather than anything else,” Linsmayer said.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle


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