Looking ahead to the 2020/21 winter season
The ski industry values the health and safety of its employees, guests, and communities. The Berkshire East and Catamount teams demonstrated this commitment in March when we led the ski world into shutting down with several weeks left in the season. This was painful for our business, our staff, and our guests.
However, when we shut down we committed to being one of the first to open back up. After 6 weeks or so of partial time, we started on major projects to improve our facilities for the winter season: a new snowmaking pond at Berkshire East, major upgrades to Catamount ski terrain, and more. Many of our staff participated in our effort to be part of the PPE solution, Goggles for Docs, which delivered 50,000 ski goggles as PPE to health care workers in over 20 countries.
In May, Jon Schaefer was able to participate in the official reopening process of Massachusetts as the co-chair of the Outdoor Recreation, Eco-Tourism, and Rural Economy committee for COVID guidance. In June, our staff came through big time as we rushed to reopen our summer businesses on short notice as Massachusetts led the US in reopening outdoor recreation as a priority mechanism to get its residents outside and spread out to help fight the battle against this coronavirus.
This experience has given us a leg up as we look at the winter. Here are some takeaways from this effort and some details as to what the season would look like now if we were to open.
Ski area operators, staff and guests have a shared responsibility to reduce the risk of infection and stop the spread of COVID-19.Face coverings are required whenever physical distancing cannot be achieved. Face coverings will be required in both indoor and outdoor spaces. The face covering may be removed while seated and eating or drinking.
Physical distancing efforts will most likely be in place. These will be familiar to most people. We expect physical distancing at ski areas to be similar to what we have already experienced: spacing in queues, one-way traffic flows, and restaurants pivoting to takeout/grab-and-go service. In a nutshell, we are moving outside to accommodate the new guidance.
Cleaning and disinfection. Our ski areas will adopt cleaning and disinfection strategies for all areas of their operation, including high-touch areas such as restrooms, restaurants, dining facilities, ticket offices, and rental shops. All cleaning products used will follow CDC and EPA guidance on agents that are effective against COVID-19.
Skier services will vary by resort. Each ski area will decide which parts of its operation will be available to its guests. Guests should check the ski area's website for the status of lessons, rentals, and dining.
In addition to these points, use the Ski Well, Be Well document as a reference tool to better understand the accepted best practices related to COVID-19 for U.S. ski areas.
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