Colorado finalizes guidance for ski areas and resorts

File Photo of Wolf Creek Ski Area

COLORADO - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) finalized its guidance for ski areas and resorts. The guidance goes into effect immediately. After releasing a draft of the guidance on Oct. 14, the state reviewed feedback from community members and organizations from across the state, and incorporated feedback into the finalized guidance.


Ski areas are a vital driver of the Colorado economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these areas also present unique challenges for controlling virus transmission. A successful ski season will require a strong partnership between ski areas, local governments, local businesses, and the state.


Process
Ski areas should work closely with their Local Public Health Agency (LPHA) and home community to develop their individual plans.


Ski areas should include the categories outlined in “Ski area and LPHA planning” within their ski area-specific plans. Ski area plans can and should go into further detail to address area- or local-specific issues in their plans.


Ski areas must submit their plans to their LPHA for approval. Ski areas that exist in multiple jurisdictions (city and county, multiple counties, etc.) should consult with their home LPHA about including additional jurisdictions in the planning process.


Once approved, the LPHA will submit the plan to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for final sign-off.


Ski area-specific state guidance
In general, communication with skiers and visitors should start before they arrive at the ski area to the greatest extent possible. State and local COVID-19 requirements should be prominently displayed on ski area websites and shared when reservations are booked, when arriving at the resort, in lodging facilities, etc.


Areas should communicate:
Expectations to wear masks and physically distance.


Require mask-wearing in accordance with the ski area’s plan, encouraging mask-wearing in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, recognizing exceptions for safety, dining, and while individuals are actively engaged in skiing, riding, or other distanced outdoor activities.


Ensure physical distancing in all public indoor and outdoor areas.


How to use prevention tools like Exposure Notifications.


Quarantine requirements in case of exposure.


Communicate state and local orders that require individuals who test positive for or have been exposed to COVID-19, while in Colorado, to extend their stay at their own expense to complete isolation or quarantine requirements.


What dial level the county currently is in and what that means. Out-of-state visitors should know that capacities may vary across counties and resorts.


Ski areas should adopt, promote, and coordinate on enforcing the statewide COVID-19 Commitments to Containment:
Wear a mask in public places.


Physically distance.


Limit group sizes.


Isolate yourself if you have symptoms or test positive.


Regularly clean high-touch surfaces.


Screen for symptoms.


Protect at-risk people.


Slope operations, including gondolas, chairlifts, and staging areas
Promote remote purchasing of lift tickets online or by phone, instead of in person.


Symptom and exposure screening questions (in person) or agreements to self-monitor (remote) prior to patron arrival at the ski area is encouraged.


Require mask-wearing in accordance with the ski area’s plan, encouraging mask-wearing in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, recognizing exceptions for safety, dining, and while individuals are actively engaged in skiing, riding, or other distanced outdoor activities.


Require masks in lines for and while riding on chairlifts and gondolas.


Display signage reminding guests of distancing and masking policies.


Ski area guests will not be required to ride on a chairlift or gondola with people outside of their party.

Individuals who are not from the same party may ride a chairlift together with a minimum of one seat separating the unrelated individuals or parties; however, ski areas should generally encourage more space between different parties when possible.


Gondolas should keep windows open, even in inclement weather. Gondolas should be limited to no more than two separate parties with adequate spacing, and not more than 50% capacity if more than one party rides a gondola together (single parties may reach full capacity). Specific spacing configurations and requirements should be addressed with the LPHA in the ski area plan. Consider posting reminders of these requirements within gondola cabins.


Ensure 6-foot spacing between separate parties, in all directions, in chairlift and gondola lines by employing tactics such as extending staging areas and marking 6-foot increments for suggested standing. Instances where this requirement is unworkable should be addressed in the ski area’s plan and discussed with the LPHA.


Consider the typical volume of visitors, and whether crowd volume management tactics (such as reservations, congestion-based pricing, and/or remote ticket sales) are needed to successfully implement physical distancing.


Safety on chairlifts is paramount, and maintaining seating distance is not required for ski school groups with students too young to ride chairlifts by themselves safely, or those who require additional assistance or have additional needs to ride chairlifts safely.


Parking lots
Require appropriate physical distancing and mask-wearing.


Remind guests to stay in small groups, limited to members of their party.


Consider increasing base area drop-off opportunities and locations and encouraging drivers to be the only member of their party to use transit or shuttle systems after parking.


Ski school and private lessons
Limit ski school cohorts/groups to no more than 10 people, not including instructors, and consider maintaining smaller cohort/group sizes when possible.


Consider limiting ski school activities and kids’ programming on weekends when resort volume will be higher.


Cohorts should remain with their group and not mix with other groups or instructors during structured time or free time, including on chairlifts and gondolas and in lines. Safety on chairlifts is paramount, and maintaining seating distance is not required for ski school groups with students too young to ride chairlifts by themselves safely, or those who require additional assistance or have additional needs to ride chairlifts safely.


Require instructors and students 11 years of age and older to wear masks in accordance with the ski area’s plan, encouraging mask-wearing at all times while recognizing exceptions for safety, dining, or while individuals are actively engaged in skiing, riding, or other distanced outdoor activities.


Students should receive symptom and exposure screenings or questionnaires upon their arrival to the ski area for ski school. They should be sent home if symptoms are detected. Encourage students to have their temperatures taken prior to arriving at the resort. If symptoms are detected, the student must stay home.


The ski area should collect and maintain contact information for all students for contact tracing purposes in the event that a student or instructor tests positive for COVID-19.


Promote rescheduling and refund flexibility to encourage guests to stay home when sick.

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