Skiing and snowboarding are considered by many health experts to be low-risk activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is most true when you’re swooshing down the slopes, but to stay safe the rest of the time, it’s important to wear a mask, maintain social distance from other skiers, and avoid indoor spaces like lodges, restaurants and gondolas.
Ski areas have put new safety measures in place to keep guests as safe as possible this winter. Face masks are required when not actively skiing, eating or drinking. Other measures include employee health screenings before every shift and increased cleaning and disinfecting.
Here is what you can expect this winter and some tips to make the most of your ski weekend:
Plan Your Trip in Advance
Many resorts are reducing daily capacity to limit the number of skiers and snowboarders on the mountain on any given day. You may be required to reserve parking or buy your lift ticket in advance. Resorts also encourage guests to pre-book hotels, restaurants, ski lessons and rentals which will eliminate the need to stand in some lines.
Check out the resort’s website before you head to the mountain to learn about COVID-19 protocols and cancellation policies should you have to call off your trip due to illness. If you’re traveling across state lines you may be required to quarantine or present proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Use Your Car as Your Home Base
It may be tempting to warm up in the lodge, but it’s best to limit the time you spend indoors to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19. Nashoba Valley Ski Area is telling guests to think of their car as their own personal lodge because its buildings are open only for restrooms and for eating and drinking. There are no changing areas and no storage.
Remember that people will be unmasked while eating and drinking, so snacking in your car will further reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and allow you to warm up. It’s a good idea to have bottled water and food in your car. Even if you want to eat at a resort indoor dining facility you may face a wait because resorts must abide by local and state capacity limits. Some resorts have added food trucks and other outdoor dining options so you can grab lunch on the go.
Be An Early Bird
Hit the slopes early in the day when resorts tend to be less busy. Weekdays also tend to be less crowded than weekends, but be aware that school vacation weeks and holidays bring big crowds.
Keep Your Distance
Waiting in line for a ride up the mountain is another time when you will come in contact with other people. Resorts have responded to this risk by expanding lines to allow for social distancing and limiting the capacity of chairlifts, gondola and trams. Guests in the same party are allowed to ride together, but many are limiting double and triple lifts to a single rider while spacing out riders on large lifts. Some resorts are limiting gondolas to a single group or two small groups providing six feet of distance is possible. Stowe in Vermont is leaving windows open on enclosed lifts to allow for ventilation.
The Bottom Line
If you follow the rules — wear a mask, social distance and avoid indoor spaces — skiing and snowboarding can be low-risk activities. If you still feel the risk is too great, consider cross-country skiing. It’s pretty easy to distance yourself from others on the trails. Plus, it’s a great workout. You may find you’re staying so warm that you won’t be tempted to go inside to get out of the cold.