By Jamie Leary

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Summer activities in the high country will see a return to almost normal this year as mountain communities begin to bring back activities halted due to the pandemic.

“Our Trestle Bike Park will open along with all of our normal summer activities- our alpine slide will open and were also planning a few live in person events for the August/September time frame,” said Jen Miller, communications manager for Winter Park Resort.

Winter Park Resort had a successful 2020 summer season, but with restrictions. Miller said this year, things will look a bit more normal.

File photo (credit: CBS)

“Really everything should look somewhat normal,” she said.

Winter Park Resort is following mask mandates closely. Currently the resort will require masks through closing day, May 9, but plans to re-evaluate for the summer. It’s the same for Vail Resorts, which recently announced the opening of more summer activities.

“Following a reduced operating footprint last summer, guests can look forward to more activities on tap at the resorts for the upcoming summer season,” Vail stated in a news release.

With health and safety in mind, the release stated that at Vail Resorts this summer, operations will continue according to local public health orders and following their guidance as it relates to face coverings.

Summit County Health worked closely with four major ski areas located within county limits and said it will no longer require operating plans, thanks to decreasing case counts and increasing vaccination rates.

In an email, Summit County’s Environmental Health Manager, Dan Hendershott, explained:

“As you know, summer of 2020 and this past ski season both required ski areas to submit operating plans that we review and approve. That is not being required this summer due to our decreasing case incidence and increasing vaccination rates,” Hendershott said. “If they are proposing a specific activity that requires public health approval in our order they would need to get our approval and CDPHE just like any other business proposing a similar activity. An example of this would be an indoor event with more than 500 persons. Our local order and the CDPHE order require this. I cannot think of another example of when they would need our approval.”

Hendershott added all ski areas would be required to follow all applicable public health orders even if the county isn’t reviewing and approving them.
Other mountain communities are following guidelines cautiously but optimistically.

The town of Breckenridge is hoping to bring back its Fourth of July parade this year, and the town of Winter Park just announced that Jazz Fest will once again return.

“We’re so excited to bring jazz fest back! It’s the 38th annual again… because it would’ve been 38 years last year so it’s the 38th annual jazz 2.0,” said Catherine Ross, Executive Director of the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber of Commerce.
Ross said the town is hoping to bring back the same line-up that should have been last year. Ticket sales will be curbed slightly due to COVID and for now, mask mandates will be in effect in some capacity.

(credit: CBS)

“Our understanding is that masks when you’re close to each other is gonna be a good thing to have,” said Ross. “We will be asking people to have masks with them. They’ll enter with a mask, when they walk around, we’ll ask them to wear a mask and that’s because right now, this minute, those are the rules – closer to the date we’ll have more information and as things change and as protocols change, we’ll change with them.”

Ross said the Jazz Fest is not only important for the music community but for Grand County as a whole. One of several mountain towns devastated by wildfire and COVID at the same time.

“Hopefully, it will be a successful summer for our businesses, so that they also can take a deep breath and no be living so much on the edge.”

The Jazz Fest kicks off July 17

According to an email response from the state, the latest mask mandates and social distancing protocols include the following:

  • The mask order requires people in Colorado over 10 years old to wear a mask over their noses and mouths:
    • For all counties: in schools (including extracurricular activities), child care centers, indoor children’s camps, public-facing state government facilities, congregate care facilities, prisons, and jails, emergency medical and other healthcare settings, personal services, and limited healthcare settings.
    • In counties with one-week disease incidence rates in excess of 35 per 100,000 — which are known in Dial 3.0 as blue, yellow, orange, red, and purple counties — masks must also be worn in public indoor settings where 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present.
  • The statewide mask order does not require masks outside.
  • Local communities may have additional mask restrictions so people should check local ordinances.

Jamie Leary