Ski resort companies in Colorado are scrambling to tell their customers what they are doing in reaction to the coronavirus, while customers wonder whether it’s enough to risk skiing.
So is it safe to ski, especially after Gov. Jared Polis ordered the cancellation of events of 250 or more throughout the state, and groups of 50 or more have been banned in Pitkin County (Aspen), Eagle County (Vail) and Garfield County (Glenwood Springs)?
This comes from Laura Dixon, a community involvement and communications manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:
“Based on what we understand from CDC, risk of transmission is associated with exposure over a long period of time,” Dixon wrote in an email. “Outdoor and casual activities, such as skiing, are lower risk for transmission. But Coloradans should take extra precautions. We know many ski resorts have taken extra precautions at this time, which includes hand sanitizers, increased cleanings and encouraging sick employees and patrons to stay home. Although skiing is an event done mainly at a distance from others, extra precaution should be taken when gathering in lodges or lift lines. People who are in higher risk categories should not ski, especially in areas with community spread.”
But what constitutes prolonged exposure?:
“Data are insufficient to precisely define the duration of time that constitutes a prolonged exposure,” a CDC report dated March 7 said. “However, until more is known about transmission risks, it is reasonable to consider an exposure greater than a few minutes as a prolonged exposure. Brief interactions are less likely to result in transmission.”
Meanwhile, ski areas are trying to get their messages out.
On Friday, Arapahoe Basin announced that one of its call center employees is being tested for COVID-19. The ski area laid out the steps it has taken to prevent potential spread if the virus is confirmed.
Copper Mountain announced that it would be closing its terrain park among additional measures to prevent potential spread.
Steamboat and Winter Park both sent out messages on Friday addressing the issue and the measures they are taking.
“Steamboat is fully open and welcoming guests for spring vacations,” wrote Rob Perlman, the resort’s president and chief operating officer. “We remain committed to delivering the same Western hospitality our guests and employees expect from Steamboat while providing an enjoyable getaway in the Colorado mountains.”
Winter Park sent out a similar letter over the signature of Sky Foulkes, president and COO. Much of the text is similar or identical in both letters. Both resorts are owned by Alterra Mountain Co.
The letters briefly outline measures being taken including:
- Additional hand sanitizers in high-traffic locations.
- Increased frequency of disinfection in public restrooms, food halls, kitchen surfaces, door handles, tables, restaurants, bars and rental counters.
- Symptomatic employees have been asked to stay home.
On Thursday, Aspen Snowmass announced it was canceling some events and outlined the measures being taken at its four Aspen-area mountains to combat the pandemic.
Vail Resorts also put out a message Thursday, but it was far less detailed:
“All of our resorts are open, and operating according to the most updated guidance and precautions from health officials, with attention to the cleanliness and environment of our facilities,” said an unsigned update on the Vail Resorts website. “We are aware that there are event restrictions in place across many states, provinces and counties where we operate. We are — and will continue to — follow all official guidance and cancel or postpone events as directed. Updates will be posted on resort and event websites.”