Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz has released an extensive operating plan for the winter ’20-’21 season. You can read the full release here.
Don’t feel like reading the whole thing? Let me summarize some of the MAJOR changes coming to Vail Resorts’ mountain this season, and answer the question: How will Covid-19 effect the Epic Pass?
1. Required Face Coverings
Protocol: Katz has stated that skiers and riders will be required to wear face coverings while loading and riding chairlifts/gondolas, when inside all buildings, and during all ski and snowboard lessons. It’s strongly encouraged that guests wear masks at all times.
Opinion: This is a no-brainer. Most people wear some type of face covering during a normal season anyways.
2. Reservation System
Protocol: Passholders must make a reservation prior to their visit, and can make as many week-of reservation as their pass allows. The early-season (prior to Dec. 8th) will be for pass holders only. This means no daily lift-tickets sold until that date. Passholders will also be able to make 7 priority reservation days during the core season, defined by Vail as Dec.8-April 14.
Opinion: I get it. Vail can’t risk a massive pile-up of skiers/riders that flock to a resort because of a powder day. However, this protocol could make calling in “sick” for a surprise pow day pretty challenging.
3. Physical Distancing on Chairlifts and Gondolas
Protocol: “To maintain physical distancing on our chairlifts and gondolas, we will only be seating related parties (guests skiing or riding together) or: two singles on opposite sides of a four-person lift; two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift; or two singles on opposite sides of our larger gondola cabins.”
Opinion: Again, this protocol makes sense. Other ski resorts started to implement similar protocols at the tail-end of last season. I only wonder how this will effect lift-line build ups. It’s better than not running the lifts at all.
4. Physical Distancing in Vail Resorts’ Properties
Protocol: Vail is applying physical distancing measures in all of its buildings. You will see changes to restaurants, bathrooms, and other facilities for the safety of all guests.
Opinion: This is to be expected. Glad they’re taking these measures very seriously.
Vail is the “industry-standard” by some accounts. It’s great to see that they are setting the precedent for other groups and mountains to follow-suit. We need protocols like these if any of us want to ski/ride at a resort this season.