COVID19 Update, Thursday November 4th.

Today the State of Vermont published guidelines for ski resorts for the season.
There is a good summary at VT Digger (click here). I have copied that article below.
The state’s document, a pdf, is here. It goes beyond the detail that concerns us as skiers and guests.
The club will publish the our Covid19 statement once we have heard from the resort

State tightens rules on school sports, ski resort operations to deal with Covid-19

By Tom Kearney
Nov 3 2020

Ski resorts and school sports will look considerably different this winter, courtesy of the pandemic.

School sports: No wrestling or indoor track at all; state officials see no way they can be conducted safely. Teams can compete in Nordic and alpine skiing, snowboarding, basketball, bowling, cheer, dance and gymnastics, with strict limitations — including no spectators, except for one parent per athlete’s family.

Skiing: Skier reservations are not required, though some areas have instituted them. Lift lines must be spread out, social distancing will allow just one person per chair (except for family members or a traveling party, who can ride uphill together), and skiers will have to tell the truth about quarantining and travel safety or risk losing their right to use the mountain.

Those details emerged Tuesday from a press conference the state government holds twice a week for Covid-19 updates.

Restrictions adopted for fall sports worked out well, said Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, though there were complaints that the rules for football and volleyball went too far.

Moving into winter, a super spreader event in Montpelier has influenced some of the thinking. What began as a few cases at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center’s ice rink is now linked to 112 cases, including cases at seven K-12 schools and 65 cases at St. Michael’s College in Colchester — where 17 new cases were reported Monday after campus-wide testing. Most of the St. Michael’s cases are asymptomatic.

Moore said Vermont understands that in-person learning is fragile, and precautions are needed. “We’re looking for ways to take lessons learned” and ensure that sports can be played safely and kids can remain in school, she said.

The risk depends on the sport — the degree of person-to-person contact, and the level of exertion that could spew athletes’ exhalations widely. That ruled out wrestling and indoor track, respectively.

Cheer squads can hold their seasons, but may not perform vocal routines, even in practice.

Holding sports indoors is a risk, which is why spectators are not allowed at practices or games. That will be a disappointment to fans, Moore said, but minimizing exposure is key.

Masks will be required for athletes, coaches and officials.

Practices can start Nov. 30 and games can begin six weeks later, on Jan. 11. That provides enough time to look for trends that emerge and make any necessary adjustments — including delays or cancellations, Moore said.

Team-based social gatherings are a big risk, too, and they’re strongly discouraged, said Moore, two of whose children play high school soccer. The Vermont Principals’ Association will issue more details on winter sports rules later this week, she said.

The rules for ski areas

There’s snow on the ground, and powderhounds want to ski. They can, said Ted Brady, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, but, just like school sports, ski areas must alter how they do business.

The goal is to provide the safest ski-and-ride experience in the country, while also protecting ski resort employees and the communities that host these mountains, Brady said. Multiple state agencies contributed to the new rules, which focus on six areas of safety and security.

  • All ski-resort customers must attest they have complied with travel and quarantine guidance. It’s up to the skiers to do research on travel guidelines, which are mandatory for visitors to Vermont. Brady called this the most restrictive policy in the country, and the penalty for violating it can include revoking ski privileges altogether. 
  • Ski areas must collect contact-tracing information for every skier on the hill every day, and keep it on file.
  • Ski areas must reduce reliance on out-of-state staff. Ski patrollers and other resort employees can still come into Vermont to work, but only to work — no socializing. 
  • People in chairlift lines must stay spread out, and lift rides can’t exceed 50% of capacity, except for a party traveling together. For instance, a family of four or two couples traveling together can use a quad, but other riders will be singles on the lift. Gondolas can carry just a single person, unless they’re big enough for people to stay at least 6 feet apart. 
  • Crowds in base lodges must stay below 50% of fire occupancy, with a cap of 75 people in any space, no matter how big it is.
  • Resorts must have very lenient cancellation policies, so people who are sick or violating travel rules won’t still come to Vermont because otherwise they’ll lose a lot of money.

The ski resort rules run to 10 pages, Brady said, and will require a lot of adaptation by ski areas and guests. In part, he said, that’s why the Legislature put $2.5 million into grants to help ski areas improve safety. The deadline for applying for those grants is the end of this week. Brady also noted that more than a dozen ski areas received other state grants to help businesses cope with lost revenue.

Ski areas are not only on board with these restrictions, but suggested some of them. For instance, Killington prides itself on launching its ski season early, but waited this year until it’s sure it has enough terrain available for skiers to spread out. And Bolton Valley is setting up cabanas, so skiers need not go into the lodge. Others have canceled group ski lessons; only individual lessons will be offered.

Brady noted that ski resorts have a good record in the pandemic, operating this spring, summer and fall with no problems.

If all the rules sound like a barrier to skiers from other states, Brady said, “this is a great time to move to Vermont and work from home for the winter.”

Brady also said Vermont allows people to quarantine at home for 14 days, then travel to the state in a personal vehicle. “There’s a way to come to Vermont,” he said, but there’s no question the restrictions will have an impact on the bottom line.

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