DENVER (CBS4)– The guidelines for the upcoming ski season amid the coronavirus pandemic have been released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The guidelines include anticipated social distancing and face coverings.
The guidance released by the CDPHE goes into effect immediately:
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet between parties.
- Wearing masks to the maximum extent possible.
- Health screening and symptom tracking.
- Isolating and quarantining, as required.
The CDPHE also released baseline guidelines for mountain-specific activities:
- Isolation housing to create opportunities for visiting guests to safely isolate and quarantine themselves in the event that they test positive or need to quarantine during their stay and cannot travel.
- Ensuring safe employee housing environments.
- Limiting ski school cohorts/groups to no more than 10 people.
- Prioritizing the immediate safety and sheltering needs of guests and staff due to extreme weather events when in conflict with these COVID-19 guidelines.
While many of the ski areas have said the guidelines don’t present any surprises, adhering to them will present a sustained challenge.
In order to encourage guests to stay home when sick, the CDPHE is recommending flexibility with refunds on everything from lodging to ski school.
The state guidance also says if you test positive or have been exposed while on vacation, you must extend your stay at your own expense to complete quarantine requirements.
One of the top concerns listed by the CDPHE revolves around employee housing and workspaces, where the biggest risk of transmission exists.
“Employees will have a health screening before they arrive, a temperature check before they arrive to ensure they have no symptoms that you would find with an illness,” said Ryan Huff, Director of Communications for Vail Resorts in Colorado.
Huff said Vail has been making plans for months and in many areas, exceed what the state has recently outlined.
“We announced our plans in late August. One area we’ll change is the chairlift rules to align with state guidance (one empty seat between unrelated parties instead of two). Just based on latest health guidance,” said Huff via email.
Many of the ski areas in Colorado still need final approval on their plans from local public health agencies as well as the state.
“Outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding can be lower risk if done with proper precautions, both on and off the slopes,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE, in a statement. “We have to proceed carefully and be willing to evolve if necessary. We’ve been grateful for the cooperation of ski and resort areas. Our top priority is the safety of Coloradans and ensuring the health care systems in these areas aren’t overrun.”