The Mt. Baldy ski resort in California made headlines a few days back when it became the first ski hill in North America to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, the resort resumed operations on Wednesday, April 22 to celebrate Earth Day. The move came despite the fact that governmental officials in California continue to urge businesses to remain closed and that people remain vigilant when it comes to social distancing and isolating themselves from others.
The resort itself says that it is following cues from local golf courses, which have also begun reopening as well. Representatives from Mt. Baldy say that snow conditions are excellent this time of year and that the location is actually much larger and more spread out than most golf courses. They expect to be operating at about 10% of capacity for the near future, knowing full well that many people will continue to avoid potential exposure to crowds.
To help keep skiers safer on the hill, the resort is requiring that everyone wear a face mask, as regulated by the San Bernardino County health ordinances. Beyond that however, there are a number of social distancing rules that visitors must adhere to as well. Those include having a one day ski pass purchased online prior to arrival, as normal guest services are not open or in operation. Visitors are also required to park three car spaces away from any other vehicle and are expected to pack their own lunches, as onsite facilities aren’t available at this time. Mt. Baldy staff even recommend that skiers ride the lift by themselves.
The resort has been closed since March 20, along with pretty much every other ski hill in North America, and much of the rest of the world for that matter. The question at this point is how do businesses like this one begin to reopen and welcome back customers, while still staying safe? In this case, the management at Mt. Baldy felt that it could resume operations while still keeping skiers safely apart, allowing some revenue to begin streaming back into their coffers. Whether or not enough skiers actually come to the hill to make it a viable business remains to be seen. Thus far, there haven’t been many visitors, although small numbers of skiers and snowboarders have ventured out to take advantage of the quiet slopes.
The other question is, will more ski resorts across the U.S. follow suit? We’ll just have to wait and see as things start to return to some semblance of “normalcy.” Whatever that will mean post-COVID-19.