Former state Sen. Bill Cadman hits the slopes in Breckenridge in March just before the state shut down ski areas in the face of COVID-19.

Ski resorts will need to develop protocols for crowd management and safe housing for employees under new draft coronavirus guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“A successful ski season will require a strong partnership between ski areas, local governments, local businesses, and the state,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the department’s executive director. “We can use what we’ve learned in the pandemic so far to mitigate risk in ski areas.”

The recommendations include the promotion of lift ticket purchases online or by phone and the requirement to wear masks on lifts and gondolas, with gondola windows kept open even in inclement weather. However, in extreme weather or in the event of injury or emergency, ski areas are allowed to prioritize needs for shelter and safety ahead of the pandemic guidance.

Resorts should provide flexible scheduling and cancellation policies in the instance that someone cannot honor their reservation because of their health. When housing workers, employers should keep people in small groups to reduce exposure risk.

And for shuttles, “consider increasing base area drop-off locations and encouraging guests arriving by car to be the sole member of their party to use transit or shuttle systems after parking,” the guidance reads.

People have until Friday by 10 a.m. to provide their comments on the draft guidelines. Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order closing ski areas on March 14 due to the increasing spread of coronavirus. But resorts are readying to welcome skiers back this fall.


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