How Vermont Ski Areas Are Handling COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads rapidly, Vermont’s ski areas have been taking cautious measures to ensure the safety of skier and riders.

With only two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vermont as of Friday, March 13,  the pandemic has yet to hit the state in ways it has hit others. Still, many Vermont colleges and universities, including the University of Vermont have canceled classes and sent students home and they will be doing their coursework online.

Jay Peak and Burke Mountain announced they will be shutting down all lift operations after tomorrow, Saturday, March 14 and shut down the waterpark today.

The Middlebury College Snow Bowl has announced plans for early closing. The ski area is owned by Middlebury College and relies on a student-run ski patrol. This weekend will be its final weekend of the season. Suicide Six also announced this weekend is it’s last of the season, though made no connection to coronavirus.

On Friday afternoon, Killington Resort announced it was taking additional measures. These include:

  •  Canceling all live music, special events and conferences scheduled through at least April 4. This includes Ski Bum Finals at Killington & Pico , the Vermont Brewers Festival, K-1 Lodge Teardown Party and the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge.
  • Closure of some of our smaller food and beverage outlets including Yurt Lunch and Dinner, Motor Room Bar, Brat Haus, Clubhouse Bar and Grill, Wobbly Barn Night Club
  • Elimination of self-serve salad bar stations at the Peak Lodge and Wobbly Barn Steakhouse
  • Enforcement, starting immediately, of reduced or modified occupancy limits in all base lodges and restaurants
  • Removal of seats and tables from base lodges and on-mountain restaurants to increase space per occupant to encourage social distancing
  • Suspension of maximum loading policies on our gondolas and the Snowdon Six pack bubble chair for added space per occupant
  • Suggest that guests try to avoid base lodges during the busy lunch period, when density is highest. Bringing a brown bag lunch or grabbing food items to go and eating outside or at your vehicle will help to spread people out and meet distancing guidelines
  • Closure of the Killington Grand Spa until further notice. The Grand pool and Health Club will remain open.

Stratton also announced that “Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and concerns around public gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to take additional precautions by canceling the Vermont Open competition and events, including the silent disco.”

Vermont Ski + Ride has reached out to a number of other ski areas around the state but so far, none have announced changes to their schedules.  Nearly all have redoubled efforts to sanitize public spaces. While Vail Resorts shared the following statement on Thursday, March 12,

Vail Resorts posted the following statement late Friday, March 13, valid for all its 37 resorts:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
At Vail, long lines built up after the resort began limiting the 8-passenger gondola to just three riders per car today. Photo by Mike Bard.

On Friday, March 13, reports from skiers at Vail Resort in Colorado were that the gondola was only loading at half capacity to allow more space between occupants. Reports from Jackson Hole also indicate a limit on crowds on the tram.

We will continue to update this post  and our social media as we receive more news.

Opening photo: The pool at the Killington Grand Hotel will remain open for now though the spa has closed.

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.

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