January 18, 2021
Most of the ski industry has been open and largely functioning since early December. We thought it was, therefore, a good time to check around the country on the effects of Covid on the sport. The good news is that we seem unlikely to see a complete shutdown of the industry like we had in March 2020. The activity of skiing itself has proven, as we expected, to be quite safe. The bad news is that basic ancillary activities – eating and sleeping – are causing problems.
Imagine going to Aspen and not being able to eat at your favorite fancy restaurant! (Some of us aren’t sure why you would go there for any reason – except perhaps to ski Highlands – but as we like to say – that is a subject for another day.) Pitkin County, home of the Aspen resorts, has just gone to a Red Level alert. This means no indoor dining and outdoor dining is allowed only in same-residence groups. In addition, people who do not live in the same primary residence are prohibited from sharing lodging.
Fortunately, parts of California are headed in a more positive direction. As we reported in an earlier article (Covid Update – Europe and California), California had basically closed down all lodging surrounding the major ski resorts. But just this week northern resorts such as Squaw/Alpine and Kirkwood are in counties that have loosened lodging restrictions so that overnight stays are now permitted, albeit at reduced levels (generally at 25%). However, since California’s restrictions are on the county level, there are still major resorts like Mammoth that cannot offer any lodging to recreational skiers.
There are potential advantages to being located in less regulated states like Wyoming and Idaho. Covid restrictions in Wyoming are basically only allowed at the state level. And while the state has imposed a mask mandate, they have focused on little else. Teton County, where Jackson Hole is, has seen a significant post holiday spike in cases, Teton County Covid Spike, but despite that, the state will not allow them to impose new restrictions. So if you are up for the risk, Jackson may be the place to go.
And then there is Idaho. They have only the most basic Covid restrictions in place. Bars and restaurants can operate with one key restriction – they have to provide seating! But this laissez faire approach has caused problems for at least one ski area. Schweitzer posted a nasty release this week cancelling their twilight skiing over the MLK weekend “Due to an overwhelming lack of compliance with our mask policies and social distancing…”. We knew things were wild in northern Idaho after the sun goes down.
Back east it seems the status quo. Basic restrictions are in place – masks and social distancing – in all states and generally seem to be adhered to and effective. Vermont remains by far the most restrictive. They still have in place the 14 day quarantine requirement if coming in from out of state. The only exception is a shorter 7 day quarantine is allowed if you have no symptoms and a negative test. While we suspect many are not adhering to these rules they are still in place.
For better or worse, an early season article we wrote providing an overview of Covid limitations on skiing is still relevant. See Skiing in the Age of the Damn Virus