UTAH (ABC4) – After COVID-19 forced resorts to close ahead of schedule in spring 2020, skiers and snowboarders were more eager than ever to get back on the slopes last winter. In order to mediate risks associated with the pandemic, many resorts implemented new safety measures like mask mandates, limited capacity dining, and reservation requirements. Now, with the widespread availability of vaccines and eased restrictions across the state, resorts are amending their policies, too.
Despite the fact that protocols are far less strict than last season across the board, rules still vary from resort to resort. Alison Palmintere, Director of Communications at Ski Utah, encourages checking the specifics of your local resort’s policies before hitting the slopes.
“A good rule of thumb is to just have a mask in your back pocket in case it’s necessary,” she says.
Last year, masks were required indoors, in lift lines, and when riding the lift. This year, the majority of Utah resorts will require masks indoors only, with the exception of when guests are eating and drinking in designated spaces. Outdoors, masks will not be required.
With last year’s emphasis on distancing, many resorts required reservations to limit capacity on the mountain and allow for easier distancing. According to Palmintere, none of Utah’s resorts will be requiring reservations this year, with the exception of parking reservations at certain locations.
At most resorts, visitors are likely to see the strictest COVID protocols surrounding dining. Several resorts have mentioned the possibility of limiting seating capacity and dining time in their restaurants, and many are requesting cashless transactions only. Park City will be requiring all guests, aged 12 and up, to provide proof of vaccination before dining at any affiliated restaurants. Alta notes that, while restaurants will be open, diners could see changes to offerings and service due to understaffing.
Last year, distancing policies were applied to ski lift rides by eliminating singles lines and only allowing members of the same party to ride up the mountain together. This year, singles lines will return and lifts will be filled to capacity. If guests request to ride alone or only with members of their party, they may have to wait longer to be accommodated.
Many of Utah’s resorts will be requesting staff be fully vaccinated or comply with frequent COVID tests. However, due to recent developments regarding Utah’s COVID vaccine exemption bill, some employees may opt-out of the vaccine.
Although several resorts have yet to announce their COVID policies for the upcoming season, there are many protocol commonalities across the board. According to Palmintere, resorts are in constant communication with one another and will work together to amend policies as needed as the season progresses.
“Each resort is able to take in the information and guidance from CDC and local authorities and make policies that are specific to the area that they’re in,” she explains. “Last year, we saw that resorts were able to be super agile with implementing protocols as cases rose or fell and I think we’ll see something similar this year.”