By Rick Sallinger

(CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis indicated that there should be no gatherings of 250 or more unless the organizers can keep groups of people at least six feet apart. During a news conference on Friday morning, he also addressed coronavirus concerns during winter recreation.

Polis announced Friday evening the first coronavirus death in Colorado is a woman in her 80s in El Paso County with underlying health conditions. There are 77 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Colorado as of Friday evening.

(credit: CBS)

Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, has 10 cases of COVID-19. People at risk have been advised to avoid the high country.

RELATED: Coronavirus In Colorado: Local Governments Declare States Of Emergency

“We are heading to Winter Park. It was our second choice we originally had plans to ski in Aspen with the number of cases there we thought it would be more responsible to keep it local,” said skier Nate Francz.

Polis is urging ski areas to keep groups of skiers apart, “It’s not one individual and 6-feet from another individual, it’s the group that you are with… two, six, eight people want 6-feet between the next group.”

Aspen (credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Polis also announced during a 45 minute news conference Friday morning that gatherings of more than 250 people are now temporarily prohibited in the state. That follows an earlier announcement by several counties in Colorado’s high country that no events there with more than 50 people will be allowed.

Al Pulkrab found hand sanitizer, but not much different skiing circumstances at Loveland on Friday.

“I’m not all that worried about it, I think I’m healthy enough to get over it.”

He also said that ski areas are supposed to keep groups in their own gondolas so they don’t expose others. There was no reference to dining areas where hundreds of skiers can gather at one time.

Pulkrab says he is not giving up skiing due to the virus, “No it’s just too much fun! Ha, ha. Hopefully it won’t’ be an issue.”

Vail Resorts issued this statement on Friday night:

Our North American resorts remain open as scheduled and we are deploying specific actions to encourage social distancing and to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Over the course of this weekend, our resorts will begin to take the following steps:

  • We are reducing operations at our on-mountain, quick-serve dining facilities to avoid crowding. We will have limited pre-packaged food options available, but we will not be serving hot food. Please plan accordingly.
  • We will encourage guests to ride on chairlifts and gondolas with their parties only. We ask for our guests’ patience while we implement this new protocol.
  • We will post signage with social distancing reminders and our employees will be on site to help encourage safe protocols.
  • We will continue following the most updated guidance and precautions from health officials, with attention to the cleanliness and the environment of our facilities.
  • We continue to ask our guests and employees to follow public health officials’ guidance of frequent handwashing and to stay home if they are feeling ill. Health officials advise that people at higher risk of severe illness, including those who are 60 years or older, should stay home and away from larger groups of people as much as possible.

We are in constant contact with health officials and will continue to follow their updated guidance as provided. This means there could be additional precautions taken that could impact our operations at any time.

Again, the health and wellbeing of our guests, employees and the communities where we live, work and play is of utmost importance. We thank everyone for their understanding during this unprecedented time.

Rick Sallinger

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