Skiers and snowboarders will need to do some additional research this winter especially if they are planning destination travel. A trip to Aspen, CO is a case in point.
Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, has the highest rate of Covid cases in Colorado. Consequently, county officials have closed all indoor dining effective Sunday, January 17, 2021. The four mountains in and around Aspen will remain one despite the area being newly designated “Red-Level” in regard to the pandemic, according to an article published in the Aspen Times. Outdoor dining, takeout and delivery at restaurants still will be available, though there will be an 8 p.m. last call and tables can only have people from the same household. Lodging capacity is pegged at 50 percent in Aspen and Snowmass Village.
According to published information, Pitkin County must show a 14-day decline in the skyrocketing incidence rate that hit 3,000 per 100,000 population last week before the county will go back to Orange level restrictions, according to local epidemiological data.
Also in Colorado, the area known as Blueberry Backcountry closed temporarily because someone there reportedly tested positive. The non-lift operation is due to reopen on Thursday, January 14.
In the East, New York’s Hunter Mountain was recently shut down for two days because of what resort administration said was “due to a number of ski patrollers excluded out of work because of COVID-19, operations were affected”. Hunter is owned by Vail Resorts.
The state of Vermont recently designated patrollers as health care workers making it easier and faster for them to get the Covid vaccine. According to information published by VTDigger, state officials say that although outbreaks haven’t been traced back to ski areas, cases of Covid-19 have recently increased in towns with ski areas, and residents of those towns have reported that out-of-state travelers aren’t always adhering to the state’s quarantine guidelines. Several hospitals near Vermont ski areas confirmed they have vaccinated members of ski patrol, and say they’re often health care workers or members of other local emergency response groups.
Some resort personnel are cautioning consumers to “do their homework” when planning a trip anticipating obvious and not-so-obvious ramifications resulting from Covid. For example, Steamboat Resort officials have said they would terminate its funding for the Steamboat Transit Blue Line, according to a story in the Steamboat Pilot and Today. an important service that runs only in the winter and stops in West Steamboat, downtown and the ski area.
In late December, City Manager Gary Suiter said Ski Corp. President and CEO Rob Perlman alerted him they would no longer be able to cover the costs due to loss of business from COVID-19 restrictions. Steamboat Springs Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said continuing to operate the Blue Line is especially important this season, as COVID-19 guidelines have restricted rider capacity on buses, meaning transit cannot lose buses and serve the high demand of customers, which he said reached 25,000 on the Blue Line alone in December.