COVID-19 outbreaks spread in ski resorts

Sydney Seymour, Staffer

From Austria to France to Canada to Colorado, numerous COVID-19 outbreaks were reported as connected to ski resorts. The risk of contracting COVID-19 while on outdoor slopes is fairly low, however, the risk increases while on chairlifts, inside the lodge, in congested queues and in crowds while dining outdoors. Most ski resorts don’t have ample space for proper physical distancing, and some guests forget or don’t pull up their masks. 

European nations, mainly France and Switzerland, disagree on whether to close or keep their ski resorts open. The two countries have a similar amount of COVID cases and rates. The French government inflicted tougher guidelines due to rising cases and their ski resorts were forced to shut down. Across the border, just three miles away, Switzerland continued to keep their ski resorts open due to less strict regulations. French and even British skiers and snowboarders then traveled across the border to Switzerland to hit the slopes. Italy and Germany followed France in closing ski resorts beyond January 2021. On the other hand, a COVID-19 outbreak at the Austrain ski resort Ischgl, infected more than 6000 people and spread the virus across almost 50 nations yet their ski resorts remain open. 

Another large COVID-19 outbreak occurred at the Big White Resort in Canada in which 96 positive cases were reported. On Dec. 26, the province of Ontario imposed a 28-day shutdown that prohibited visiting ski areas. 

In Colorado, some ski resort visitors are required to confirm a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of travel or quarantine for 14 days after arrival or until they obtain a negative test result. The Telluride Ski Resort installed six temporary structures with heated panels for visitors to warm up safely. Workers also implemented “ghost lines” which are empty spaces to ensure physical distance while waiting in lift lines, a strategy which was common in other ski resorts. 

Both Mt. Hood Meadows and Mt. Bachelor ski resorts in Oregon are providing stricter COVID guidelines. On their website, Meadows wrote, “It’s hard to believe that a month into our season, and almost a year into this pandemic, we still need to remind some guests to wear a face mask covering their nose and their mouth.” That being said, Meadows will be suspending passes for those who disobey their COVID guidelines, following closely, Bachelor will also suspend passes or ask the guest to leave. 

When it comes to skiing or snowboarding, one of most important things amidst a pandemic is to be aware that the social aspect may not be the same. If you’re sick, stay home. Since ski gear makes it hard to sanitize your hands, avoid touching your face, especially with unwashed hands. Try to bring your own lunch and snacks to avoid time spent in crowded food areas. Dine outdoors or in your car. Keep your mask about your nose. If you do visit a ski resort, plan ahead and adhere to all of their COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the health and safety of you and others.