Between February and March last year, as the world was trying to make sense of how the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading like a bush fire, many countries started imposing physical lockdowns to keep the spiraling infections deaths at bay. These lockdowns involved closing airports, effectively stopping international movements at a level never seen before. That was the star of long lockdowns that quickly became the norm across the globe.
However, the concerns finally eased off a little, and a semblance of normality started taking shape in many parts of the world. One of the activities that really suffered during the lockdowns was skiing. But now, with the vaccine rollout in full effect, many skiing resorts and ski goggle manufacturers are opening up, but in a limited and monitored way since the world is not yet in the clear as far as the pandemic is concerned.
We will look at some of the skiing measures that have been put into place to safeguard revelers from the virus and look at some of the factors that people have to weigh before taking that trip to the ski resort.
There are many risk factors for people who decide to take on skiing and snowboarding in the middle of the pandemic; some of the notable ones include the following.
The most likely mode of transport to and from the ski resort involves a communicable form of transport; this could be a plane, a bus, or a cab that houses more than one person. Being in a closed space like that for hours increases the chances of getting the virus no matter the precautions you may choose to take. A cab, for instance, is too confined, and the likelihood of some of the viral particles floating in the air moving from one person to the next is very high. Air travel may be back in operation with preventative measures taken, but that doesn’t really mean that everything is back to normal. The danger is still real.
Ski resorts are located in remote places, mostly near the mountains and for this reason, they also double up as lodging and hotels. The need to stay as close to the skiing trail as possible forces many guests to book hotel rooms, and this may bring some of them into contact with each other directly or indirectly. There’s also a high chance that the virus can be passed on to a hotel worker who may then go around spreading it through contact if they don’t adhere to the necessary measures outlined by the CDC, WHO, and other global organizations.
Keeping people apart may sound easy on paper but on the ground, it is much harder. Interactions will occur one way or another, be it on the ski gondola lifts on the ride up the mountain, on the trail as skiers go down one after the other, or within the hotels during dinner or other engagements. This is the reason why masks are very important if you choose to go to a skiing resort. You can keep your safe distance, but the best defense you have against this virus is wearing a face mask at all times when you leave your quarters.
The body’s immunity is usually the lowest during the cold season, and choosing to hit the skiing trail in the middle of the pandemic in the biting winger cold may not be a good idea. It had been assumed that extreme cold or the summer heat would hamper the potency of the virus, but that was quickly dismissed after the virus was found to be resilient even in the lowest of temperatures. If you are to contract the virus while in a cold region, the impact on your health could worse. If you are a high-risk individual with underlying respiratory problems, then you have no business trying to ski in the middle of a global pandemic.
With hospitals at full capacity since the pandemic made landfall, this is the worst time to fall sick or get into an accident that could land you in a hospital. For starters, there are no resources left to deal with anything that’s not COVID-19 related at the moment, and getting yourself into a medical situation only serves to strain the hospitals more than they need right now.
Another point worth noting is that getting into a skiing accident and being rushed to the hospital will only increase the chances of you contacting COVID-19 because hospitals are now hotspots for the virus, the chances of you getting it will be higher the moment you walk through the hospital doors.
Like most businesses trying to get back to their feet, ski resorts have been subjected to strict regulations to reduce the chances of the virus spreading further than it already has. Many had to be shut down during their most productive months, and this hurt businesses very badly. However, for some of the resorts, these shutdowns came as a blessing. Some decided to use the chance to do some renovations and add more facilities in readiness for when the economy reopens in the near future.
The following are some of the measures that ski resorts and establishments have put into place to make sure that everything runs smoothly during the pandemic.
As more information on the virus has become available, medical practitioners have formulated better measures across the globe, and ski resorts have taken advantage of this to trainer their employees on vital COVID-19 protocols.
They have mandated everyone who works in the resorts to undergo training of COVID-19 safety, the handling of sanitation protocols on top of conducting daily health monitoring on their guests and submitting the reports to keep track of the spread of the disease. They are also tasked with cleaning skiing gear like ski trail goggles, helmets, and other equipment after every use, disinfecting them properly to kill any virus residue left on them.
Having employees who have been trained has made the situation more manageable and is the reason why a good number of resorts have been allowed to operate in the first place.
COVID-19 tends to spread much faster in crowded places, and this has led to resorts coming up with ingenious ways to keep that spread in check while staying open to visitors. Some have come up with daily limits of skiers allowed on the ski trail at a particular time. This system allows them to keep track of all the people who are using their facilities at any given time.
This has had an unforeseen advantage of providing visitors with ample space to ski, something that would not have been possible during peak months where the trail is usually crowded with skiers. This has, in a way, increased safety for the skiers when they are on the trail.
Another smart way of ensuring that crowding doesn’t occur at the resorts, many have started advance ticketing systems and other services that allow patrons to buy tickets online before arriving. This has given the management of these resorts the power they need to block any more purchases once the limit has been hit.
This helps them control the number of people they let in, minimizing the chances of the virus being spread around their facilities. Entry is denied to any person who shows up without a valid ticket. Even the ticket verification process is now being automated and conducted with social distancing protocols put into effect. Nothing is being left to chance anymore.
Another effective method of keeping the spread of the virus in check has been the institution of mask mandates across all skiing resorts. Although this has been met with some resistance from a group of people, the resorts hold the right to expel anyone who doesn’t conform to their mask rules.
The rules in a good number of the most famous ski resorts are that anyone above the age of 3 has to cover their face with the right type of mask the moment they are in close proximity to the skiing facilities. They have to be allowed to access the lifts and the changing rooms. Fortunately for many skiers, they are used to covering their faces anyway with advanced ski goggles and helmets when they hit the trail; adding another extra layer of masks should not be a problem for them.
The most spoken about measure that has been found to be effective against the virus has been social distancing. Maintaining a minimum distance of about 6m has been found to reduce the chances of the virus hopping from one person to another. Ski resorts have instituted social distancing protocols in every part of their operations.
People have to keep a good distance between each other on the lift lines and the mazes at all times. Even the intervals that skiers use to go down the mountain have been increased significantly to avoid a situation where skiers end up colliding or coming into contact with each other below the slope.
The normal gondola has the capacity to fit between 3-5 people at a time, with others even coming with bigger spaces for a bigger number of people. This has now changed and each gondola is only allowed to carry a maximum of two people, with the recommended capacity being one person per gondola.
The confined space inside one creates the best conditions for the virus to spread, and this could be dangerous if the gondola is packed to capacity. The main aim here is to limit the amount of time people spend in confined spaces. The gondolas are then cleaned and disinfected after each ride up and down the mountain before being used by the next batch of skiers.
Dining is when the likelihood of the virus spreading is at its highest because people have to take off their masks and it is done indoors, in confined spaces. To get around this, ski resorts have resorted to spacing out the eating times, allowing only a small number of people at a time, well spaced out in a huge hall.
Another option would be to send food straight to the rooms where people can dine in peace without having to come into contact with other people in the resort. This has also been boosted by the integration of an online system where skiers can order food from within the resorts using an online portal. This minimizes the chances of people coming into contact with each other.
If going on a skiing excursion in this pandemic is absolutely unavoidable, then you have to take some personal measures to ensure that you are not exposed to the infectious disease. Some of the measures you can take include the following.
Avoid Crowds: From the moment you leave your areas of residence, avoid crowds of people as much as you can. If you can drive yourself to the airport, the better it will be for you, but if you have to take a cab, make sure there’s a barrier between you and the driver and both of you are covered up well enough. You have to be the only passenger in the car at all times for obvious reasons.
Travel Alone: Don’t travel with other members of the family; it is actually a good idea to do this alone if you have to. Traveling in groups increases the risks of getting the virus because there’s no guarantee that one person from the group may pick it up accidentally from another person and spread it among the other members. If you have to travel together, then cut down that number to a maximum of two, traveling separately all through until you reach the ski resort.
Mask Up: Don’t wait for a mask mandate for you to mask up, do it on your own for your safety. Don’t leave your house without wearing the proper mask and keep it on at all times until you find yourself in an isolated room or space with no other soul nearby. Masks have been proven to be effective against the virus, and wearing them all the time, even under your skiing gear, will make your skiing trip safer and more enjoyable. Ensure you carry extra masks with you at all times for emergencies.
Go Virtual: When it comes to ordering food or hiring skiing gear, avoid making that trip to the lobby or the gear shop respectively on your own. Find a way to conduct all your business through the phone or some other means that doesn’t involve you having to come into close proximity with other people to get thighs done. Keeping that distance from other people will go a long way in ensuring that you return home a healthy person at the end of your excursion.
Sanitize: Always have a hand sanitizer with you at all times for cleaning your hands and disinfecting your skiing gear after every use. If you are the type that operates with bare hands around the ski resort, then a hand sanitizer is a must-have item that will keep you safe throughout. Being a skiing resort, you will be better placed to wear gloves when moving around and outside your hotel room. This will give you the freedom to touch things without having to worry much. However, you have to be careful not to touch your face with those same gloves as that will be risky.
Bring Your Own Equipment: Usually, people hire everything they need at the ski resort; at times, they are even furnished by the management as part of the package. This is not a good idea in the pandemic because sharing things like gloves, snow goggles, and helmets may lead to the virus being spread around. To avoid this entirely, this is the best time to start walking around with your own gear. It may be cumbersome having to carry it with you from home to the resort, but it beats having to wear something that another pron has just used without your knowledge.
Limit your Indoor Times: The virus has a hard time latching onto people and surfaces outdoors, and this is why you are encouraged to limit the time you spend indoors, even when you are alone in your hotel room. There’s the real threat of the virus moving around in the air and AC vents from one room to another. If you can use your car as the base, the better for you.
Don’t Overstay: The lumber you extend your stay at the resort, the higher the chance that you will come into contact with the virus, and that’s the last you would want. Plan ahead and limit your stay to less than two days. Simply go there for the skiing part and leave once you have accomplished what has taken you there. The problem with extending a stay beyond what you had planned on is that you start slipping up and forgetting to observe some basic precautions. You have to maintain high alertness throughout your short stay.
Call Ahead: You need to call the resort in advance to inquire about the availability of space to avoid a situation where you leave the safety of your home to go expose yourself to a pandemic only to be turned back at the gate due to unavailability of space inside. Make contact ahead of time to find out all the details of your temporary stay before hauling yourself and your gear to the resort.
Book Weekdays: If you have time, then book a weekday slot for your skiing needs as that’s when most resorts are deserted. If the mountain is less busy, that means the chances of running into other people are very low; you will only have the employees of the resort for company, and interacting with them will be limited.
The pandemic has already altered a lot of things that were considered normal in the daily lives of people around the globe, and as much as many would like to deny it, some things will never go back to what they used to be. Thanks to the lockdowns that effectively shut down tourism, the skiing sector has been hit badly, leaving many out of business. But what does this mean for the future of skiing once the pandemic is brought under control?
One of the hardest lessons that the tourism sector has learned in this pandemic is to never ignore the local population. Many luxury ski resorts have been charging a lot of money, with their main target being rich patrons from other countries, all this at the expense of the local population. Once air travel was shut down, they quickly realized that the only people who had the means to patronize their resorts were the local people. Once the pandemic is over, a good number of skiing establishments will have to review their prices and create room for locals in order to increase their client base to avoid a repeat of 2020.
Resorts are expected to diversify their portfolio to include services and products beyond skiing. The lockdowns proved that depending on things for revenue is dangerous because the entire business can come tumbling down in case of an unprecedented disaster like a global pandemic. People should expect to see skiing resorts expand their services to include other activities that are beyond the skiing trail. Full-time boarding and lodging is one avenue that may be expected to focus their attention on once the pandemic is over.
A lot of events have had to be postponed due to the pandemic, with Winter Olympics being the most notable one. There was hope that the vaccine rollout would make things better, but so far, the pace of vaccination has been far from satisfactory, and all the projected dates for these vents have had to be reviewed once again. With infection rates still surging in many parts of the world, there’s no indication that any skiing-related event will be held this year.
Skiing is not the only thing that has been impacted negatively by the pandemic, the world over, businesses are suffering, and the ones that managed to scrape by their skin are struggling to regain their foothold. Even after the government’s injection of funds, many are yet to make a full recovery, and the situation will stay like that.
If, despite all that’s going on, you still entertain the thought of going up the laps for a skiing trip, then make sure you follow all the tips outlined in this article. For more information on the right equipment to carry with you and how to maintain them well, visit our website and check out all the options available; you may just find what you have been looking for.