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As the first frosts nip at high elevations across the country, resorts are beginning to gear up to welcome skiers back for the season. Now guests at Vail Resorts’ North American ski areas have a better vision of what things will look like when it comes to coronavirus prevention and mitigation, and one thing is certain: VR will be taking it very seriously.
The company released its health guidelines in a letter to pass holders yesterday, covering topics such as reservations, face coverings, lift capacity, and vaccinations at its 34 North American resorts.
Here’s the quick takeaway:
- There will be no reservation system, and all lifts will be loaded to capacity.
- Face coverings will not be required outdoors or on lifts or gondolas, unless stated by local public health officials.
- Face coverings will be required in all indoor spaces, including restaurants, retail, and restrooms.
- Guests 12 and over will have to show proof of vaccination to dine at quick-serve and cafeteria-style restaurants; proof of vaccination is not required at sit-down restaurants.
- The above requirement includes kids 12 and over in ski school programs that include lunch.
- Reservations will be required at many on-mountain restaurants, and reservations will be available to book one day prior rather than day-of, as it was last season.
- Vaccinations will be required for all employees.
It’s worth noting that all of these guidelines are subject to change based on health conditions, and that Vail Resorts reserves the right to add or remove requirements as it deems necessary. Read the full guidelines and FAQs here.
“We are fortunate that the core of our experience takes place outdoors in vast mountain settings,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts in an email to pass holders. “However, as we welcome guests from around the world to the indoor experience at our resorts, we feel it’s important to do our part to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
The company noted that it decided to focus on the parts of the ski experience where guests are most likely to spread the virus: indoor spaces where people take off their masks. Thus the vaccination requirement for restaurants and cafeterias as opposed to retail or other indoor areas where masks can be kept in place.
Reaction is mixed throughout the ski universe, with many people applauding VR’s move to require vaccinations for indoor dining, and some pointing out that vaccinated people spread the virus just as easily as unvaccinated people.
“Getting vaxxed doesn’t prevent you from getting Covid or spreading it,” commented one Facebook user after hearing the new guidelines.
“You choose not to get the vaccine, they choose not to host those who don’t [in] their private place of business,” countered another. ”You have no ‘right to ski’ and businesses can choose to operate as they see fit with current laws and safety requirements.”
Others were miffed that VR chose to time this announcement directly after full payment was due on Epic Passes earlier this month or felt that the guidelines are inconsistent or not fully thought through.
“If you read the email and the FAQ there are a number of inconsistencies,” noted one Facebook commenter. “[Vaccines are] only required in one area of the building but you can still use the restroom for example.”
(Psst: You can keep your mask on in the restroom, but not while biting into a burger.)
For what it’s worth, we’re elated that conditions are such that there will be a ski season, especially given the virulence and contagiousness of the Delta variant. Stay tuned for imminent updates from Alterra Mountain Co. about guidelines that will be in place at Ikon Pass resorts as well as updates from other resorts around the country as the season quickly approaches.