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CO ski areas capacities to be reduced starting 11/25

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
That's today.

From The Summit Daily News:

DILLON — Ski area capacity will be further reduced as a result of Summit County’s move to level red on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

The county’s latest public health order, which was issued Friday, Nov. 20, requires Summit County ski areas — including Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain Resort and Keystone Resort — to work with the local public health agency to further reduce their daily capacities, which already were reduced in each ski area’s existing COVID-19 operating plan. County Manager Scott Vargo said the capacities would be set by public health Tuesday, Nov. 24, and take effect Wednesday, Nov. 25. The county has not shared specific capacity limits at ski areas.

Ski areas consider skier visits to be proprietary, and the county has cited public records law language that protects trade secrets. On Tuesday morning, Vargo said the county has had conversations with officials at each resort to identify ways to adjust capacity. That limit could come in the form of a percentage of overall guests or a numerical reduction, such as a specific number of guests that are allowed each day. Vargo said the driving factor behind reducing the resorts’ capacities is the current level red designation, which prohibits indoor dining and limits gathering sizes.

“There are some changes in terms of how those resorts are operating now because of level red, and in the same regard, our community is operating in a different way … so I think what we’re hoping to see as a result of all of this is fewer people in the community to the point where we can manage those folks that are here,” Vargo said.

Public Health Director Amy Wineland said during Tuesday’s Board of Health meeting that with nearly every industry in the community being affected by level red capacity limits, the county felt it was important for ski resorts to be included. “We are suggesting decreased capacity in a meaningful way for each (ski area),” Wineland said.

Summit County Environmental Health Manager Dan Hendershott said the county had to move quickly on the new capacities and implementation to minimize coronavirus spread.n “We can’t, unfortunately, afford to have the time that we usually have for making changes and such, or we’d miss the boat on reducing cases and (preserving) hospital capacity,” Hendershott said.

As for future adjustments to capacity, Hendershott said the ski area operating plans give the county the ability to adjust capacity if the public health department feels it’s necessary but that the county tries not to change the numbers unless health officials feel there’s a real need. “We’re in a dire need to adjust our COVID cases, and that’s why we’re asking for reduced capacities,” Hendershott said.

The county is currently one step away from level purple, which is a stay-at-home order and would close most in-person operations of restaurants, gyms and retail establishments. However, ski areas are not addressed in the state’s COVID-19 dial framework, and Hendershott said there is not yet a solid plan for what would happen under level purple. He said there are ongoing discussions on the issue across the state and that the decision might be up to the state rather than the county.

In response to the county’s reduced capacity request, Copper will manage capacity by requiring parking reservations and advanced bookings, spokesperson Taylor Prather wrote in an email. She added that there will be active management of parking reservations and lift ticket inventory. Prather said the resort delayed its opening in part to allow for additional terrain, and therefore physical distancing, when the season kicks off. The resort expects to open Monday, Nov. 30, with nine lifts and 14 trails.

“We’re prepared to scale our operations as needed given the extremely dynamic situation and the changing county designations and corresponding regulations,” Prather wrote.

A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth wrote in a text message that the ski area would submit an addendum to its operating plan Tuesday evening. Breckenridge spokesperson Sara Lococo wrote in an email that Keystone and Breckenridge have adjusted on-mountain dining to grab-and-go and outdoor seating only in order to comply with level red restrictions. She added that the resorts will adhere to any capacity limit changes.

Hendershott noted that legal staff at ski resorts have identified specific capacity limits as protected trade secrets. Vargo explained that as publicly traded organizations, key metrics around ski resort’s finances and business activities are protected as proprietary or confidential. Visitation data is one of those metrics.

Lococo echoed Vargo, writing in an email that the resorts do not disclose skier visit numbers or certain business metrics that are considered proprietary. Vargo said sharing capacity information could put the county in hot water by releasing information not subject to open records laws. However, the county has said each resort’s “comfortable carrying capacities,” which are outlined in their master plans, were used to determine reduced capacities. Those carrying capacities are: 14,920 guests per day at Breckenridge, 3,780 at A-Basin, 11,870 at Copper and 12,110 at Keystone. Those figures are not limits, and Hendershott previously explained that ski areas frequently exceed carrying capacity during a normal season.
 
#2
Really interesting. Thanks for posting. Hope the ski areas can stay open and afloat for the season.
 

Tvan

Angel Diva
#3
This will be interesting to watch unfold.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
Watching with interest from Utah. I have to wonder how much closing indoor spaces will have an impact on skier visits without the resorts having to take many more measures to limit capacity. There are a LOT of people who won't even bother, or will only bother for a few hours, if they can't escape inside or can't sit down to a leisurely lunch. We have been discussing how the lack of indoor dining space here will impact afternoon skiing. Will people ski a few hours in the morning, then cut and run? I will be watching the trends with great interest and might adjust my normal "go in the morning for a few hours" during the week routine to an afternoon routine.

The wild card for ski areas across the country I think is going to be the closure of indoor spaces pushing people outside, like we saw this summer. Are we going to see a huge increase in those who are going to try skiing for the first time, or return to it after a decades-long hiatus? My husband has made the decision to teach this season after a 2 season hiatus from teaching. He has no idea WHAT to expect.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
We have been discussing how the lack of indoor dining space here will impact afternoon skiing. Will people ski a few hours in the morning, then cut and run? I will be watching the trends with great interest and might adjust my normal "go in the morning for a few hours" during the week routine to an afternoon routine.
Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon actively encouraged regulars to seriously consider skiing in the afternoons instead of the mornings. Even came out with a season pass option that started early afternoon. The advantage they have is the option of night skiing. So someone who starts at 2:00 can ski into the lights and get in 3-4 hours of skiing before heading home. Most of the locals live in Portland, about 90 min away.

Early afternoon skiing will be better than usual I think. With far fewer people on the slopes in the morning, popular terrain isn't as likely to be skied off. At least not after more terrain is open.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
Are we going to see a huge increase in those who are going to try skiing for the first time, or return to it after a decades-long hiatus?
Not a huge increase would be my guess. But definitely are regions where people who have skied a few times are interested in going. In the mid-Atlantic whatever was available at ski swaps in the fall sold out faster than usual.

What happens out in the PacNW, Sierras, or Rockies will be very different than the flatlands (midwest, mid-Atlantic, southeast) and the northeast.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Not a huge increase would be my guess. But definitely are regions where people who have skied a few times are interested in going. In the mid-Atlantic whatever was available at ski swaps in the fall sold out faster than usual.

What happens out in the PacNW, Sierras, or Rockies will be very different than the flatlands (midwest, mid-Atlantic, southeast) and the northeast.
So the Wasatch is a different animal, with so many people literally living 15-30 minutes from most of the big ski areas, so I DO anticipate an increase of newbies to the sport. I guess we'll see.

I'd love it if the mornings didn't end up with the entire mountain being skied off, but I don't believe that will happen here, either. So, yes, this whole thing is going to have different impacts in different areas for sure.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
#11
I... don't know how to feel about skiing here this year. I haven't gone yet, which will make this the latest start I've gotten to a ski season since 2007 (when I started keeping track). I intend to go after Thanksgiving, probably a weekday next week, but just... the optics are really bad.

With restaurants and everything else so limited, to look at the mountain webcams and see a ton of people just doesn't look good. Even distanced, outside, with a mask... I know a lot of people want (and need) to work, and certainly a lot of people want to ski, but the ways we're choosing what things can stay open is just so arbitrary. Skiing is obviously an outdoor activity but what about the dozens / hundreds of employees, and all the traveling that resorts encourage?

It's just hard for me to feel good about it in the current context. I really don't know what to think.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
I... don't know how to feel about skiing here this year. I haven't gone yet, which will make this the latest start I've gotten to a ski season since 2007 (when I started keeping track). I intend to go after Thanksgiving, probably a weekday next week, but just... the optics are really bad.

With restaurants and everything else so limited, to look at the mountain webcams and see a ton of people just doesn't look good. Even distanced, outside, with a mask... I know a lot of people want (and need) to work, and certainly a lot of people want to ski, but the ways we're choosing what things can stay open is just so arbitrary. Skiing is obviously an outdoor activity but what about the dozens / hundreds of employees, and all the traveling that resorts encourage?

It's just hard for me to feel good about it in the current context. I really don't know what to think.
My husband has decided to teach again this year. So the question about employee safety is up there for me as a concern. The travel part is a bit unnerving, too. That being said, I'm traveling albeit by car and a distance I can drive easily in one day. No hotels, either. I'm honestly more concerned as a local who skis my mountain several days per week about those who are traveling in and will ski if they're sick, because they spent all that money on a trip and don't want to waste it...
I do wonder if my daughter had COVID last February that she caught from being up at the resort. She was SO sick, weirdest illness she's ever had.
 
#13
My husband has decided to teach again this year. So the question about employee safety is up there for me as a concern. The travel part is a bit unnerving, too. That being said, I'm traveling albeit by car and a distance I can drive easily in one day. No hotels, either. I'm honestly more concerned as a local who skis my mountain several days per week about those who are traveling in and will ski if they're sick, because they spent all that money on a trip and don't want to waste it...
I do wonder if my daughter had COVID last February that she caught from being up at the resort. She was SO sick, weirdest illness she's ever had.
Do you guys not have restrictions for testing or quarantine for travelers coming into UT?? I’d think with that in place your bigger concern would be your fellow locals actually given the current circumstances of infection spread in UT. Of course it also depends where people are traveling from. There is no way I’d want to travel there and be amongst the locals there right now personally, no offense as I obviously don’t include you in the roundup of irresponsible people there. I’m also more afraid of the locals in ME (because there is still so much argument on their local Facebook groups and even some local businesses about just masking etc.) than I am of my fellow MA residents who are driving up. I know most of those people wear masks, distance, and are testing ahead of their trip to comply with the rules at least.
 
#14
Do you guys not have restrictions for testing or quarantine for travelers coming into UT??
The only state in the Mountain West that has tried to use travel restrictions for out-of-state travel is New Mexico. It wasn't effective given the attitude and rules in neighboring states.

What is happening in New England, plus NY, NJ, PA related to COVID-19 is very different than other regions in the U.S.
 
#15
The only state in the Mountain West that has tried to use travel restrictions for out-of-state travel is New Mexico. It wasn't effective given the attitude and rules in neighboring states.

What is happening in New England, plus NY, NJ, PA related to COVID-19 is very different than other regions in the U.S.
I always feel like we are so far ahead of everyone, and I guess we are since things went bad here first. After all of this time though, I just don’t understand the lack of following along by everyone else.. Like I just saw a headline for a federal mask mandate, and I’m all umm we’ve been doing this for how many months up here already? Though I guess NH did just literally get on board with that last week to complete the New England states. :rolleyes:
 
#17
I... don't know how to feel about skiing here this year. I haven't gone yet, which will make this the latest start I've gotten to a ski season since 2007 (when I started keeping track). I intend to go after Thanksgiving, probably a weekday next week, but just... the optics are really bad.

With restaurants and everything else so limited, to look at the mountain webcams and see a ton of people just doesn't look good. Even distanced, outside, with a mask... I know a lot of people want (and need) to work, and certainly a lot of people want to ski, but the ways we're choosing what things can stay open is just so arbitrary. Skiing is obviously an outdoor activity but what about the dozens / hundreds of employees, and all the traveling that resorts encourage?

It's just hard for me to feel good about it in the current context. I really don't know what to think.
In New England with beaches and such over the summer, there were always shots of crowded beaches. I’ve also seen lines with literally a couple hundred people outside of my local Ikea constantly for months. So perhaps that’s why I don’t have an issue seeing people in line outside on a mountain as long as there are masks and distancing happening. I just don’t see it as extraordinary different from lots of stuff that’s been going on for quite awhile now. Granted rates are higher currently, so there is that piece.
 
#18
In New England with beaches and such over the summer, there were always shots of crowded beaches. I’ve also seen lines with literally a couple hundred people outside of my local Ikea constantly for months. So perhaps that’s why I don’t have an issue seeing people in line outside on a mountain as long as there are masks and distancing happening. I just don’t see it as extraordinary different from lots of stuff that’s been going on for quite awhile now. Granted rates are higher currently, so there is that piece.
Agree that when people understand what "social distancing" really means, and practice it along with mask usage and hand washing ALL THE TIME then the situation can remain stable. Meaning Percent Positive well under 5%. But many people think that the 3Ws only matter at work because it's required or that since they have a mask on when they go grocery shopping because it's required, that's enough. It's local informal gatherings that are increasing community spread in all regions right now. It's also people ages 15-45 that are testing positive in increasing numbers, meaning as a percentage of detected cases. What some of them don't get is that increased community spread often leads to increased deaths of those people who are at higher risk. They assume they will be in the 80% who will recover even if they get COVID-19. Probably the same people who assume they won't get in a car accident when road conditions aren't optimal.

In the spring, the call in NY, NJ, and New England was "flatten the curve." Unfortunately that's what is necessary in the Mountain West and Great Lakes states right now. The difference between March and November is that a lot more is known about why the 3Ws or 3Cs works to reduce community spread. But for assorted reasons, too many people don't believe they need to change their behavior until hospitals are overwhelmed. Similar issues are happening in European countries too where mask usage didn't become a habit over the summer.
 

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