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Ticket Windows Are Closed -- No Walk-Up Day Tickets At California Ski Resorts


Yesterday, December 1st, health officials in the state of California released updated COVID-19 guidance relating to those who operate in the outdoor recreation industry. This includes campgrounds, RV parks, and the sector that matters most here, ski operators.

While the operating guidelines contain several measures that most ski areas and resorts have already put in place across the nation, there is one that may get more attention than others from skiing and snowboard enthusiasts...no onsite, day of ticket options.

This means that all visitors to Califonia ski areas and resorts will have to have an advanced purchase season pass or purchase any other ticketed product in advance. Though this is something that most ski areas and resorts in California, as well as across the country, have been pushing this season prior to the updated guidelines, it is now set in stone that all visitors have to buy in advance.

Beyond that, most of the guidelines are fairly standard and have been in place since the beginning of the season. A full look at the ski operator-specific guidelines for California are as follows:

Additional Considerations for Ski Operators

  • Ski operators must limit capacity and access to the base areas and all other outdoor recreation areas, which can be achieved by implementing measures including:
    • Requiring all customers to have a valid, pre-purchased lift ticket, season pass, or advanced reservation to receive access to the base areas and use the ski lift and/or gondola;
    • Discontinuing day of ticket sales;
    • Adjusting parking policies by regulating parking to lift pass holders only;
    • Requiring the purchase of a parking pass with lift passes and limiting parking lot capacity to discourage public use of the facilities.
  • Consider adjusting parking policies by regulating parking to season pass or lift ticket holders only and requiring a parking pass with season passes or lift tickets. Limit parking lot capacity to discourage general use of the facilities by those without season passes or lift tickets.
  • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet at all times between people from different households, such as when guests are waiting in line or riding shuttles. This can include the use of physical partitions or visual cues (e.g., floor markings or signs to indicate to where workers and customers should stand).
  • All queuing at ski facilities should be performed in outdoor settings only. Minimize any indoor queuing for gondola or tram rides. Develop an outdoor queuing system prior to entry into the indoor operation. Close sections of switchback lines/queues to ensure sufficient physical distance between customers and visitors.
  • Occupancy of chair lifts should be limited to a single household; exceptions may be made for persons from different households when the ride is less than 15 minutes and persons from different households are seated as far apart as possible but no less than one seat space apart.
  • Enclosed carrier units (e.g. gondolas or aerial tramways) must limit capacity to single households for carrier units with a capacity of 10 persons or less. For carrier units with a capacity greater than 10 persons, capacity must be limited to 25% with open windows, even in inclement weather, and seating must be arranged to ensure six feet of physical distancing between members of different households. Household members do not need to be seated six feet apart.
  • Adjust seat-loading patterns on chair lifts and gondolas to comply with physical distancing requirements. Examples would include seating every other carrier unit or carrier unit row, limiting capacity on a carrier unit to allow for space between household groups, etc. Include signage to help customers understand where to sit.
  • As a general rule, workers should avoid physically assisting/lifting customers. If a customer needs assistance, ask another household member to help. (Workers may still need to physically assist/lift customers in the event of an evacuation).
  • Ski operators must avoid activities that promote group gatherings and should be aware of state and local policies on youth and adult sports and gathering requirements to determine if ski classes, lessons, team practices, etc. can be held.
  • Encourage customers to make purchases online (prior to their visit) or from apps once inside the ski facility to minimize lines and on-site payment transactions. Where possible, avoid paper tickets that require workers to handle them for scanning.
  • Evaluate locker arrangements where customers store personal belongings to ensure those spaces can be regularly cleaned and disinfected and appropriately spaced to allow for physical distancing. Consider closing or rotating some sections to allow for appropriate physical distancing during 15 busy times. Post signs reminding customers to maintain physical distances of at least six feet and to wait for others to vacate before approaching the locker. Consider positioning a worker in the locker area to limit the number of people in the space at one time. Clean and disinfect lockers between each use or provide bags so customers can stow their personal items in those bags before placing them in a locker.
  • In the event of an emergency, ski operators should consider and plan for physical distancing in areas of ingress/egress and customer staging areas.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting protocols are important for high-touch surfaces on chair lifts, gondolas, trams, or other areas including loading stations and queue areas. Regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces frequently touched by customers or workers, including carrier unit seating areas, handrails, armrests, restraints, handholds, and grab bars, etc.
  • Develop the frequency and approach to the cleaning and disinfecting process in accordance with the cleaning product instructions and the vehicle, lift, or tramway manufacturer’s directions and based on the type of surface being cleaned. Make sure virus kill times and drying times are considered prior to opening chair lifts, gondolas, etc. Make sure the chair lift or gondola is secured (including safety lockouts as needed) so workers can safely access the areas they need to clean.

While these are the state guidelines that ski area and resort operators will be following for the duration of the season, each mountain may also have specific actions being taken specifically to that mountain. Please, before visiting any ski area or resort, consult the mountain's website or contact the mountain you wish to visit before arrival. 

For those that would like to see the California state guidelines in full, which include the guidelines specific to other outdoor recreation and sports, please use the link below.

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Photo Credit: Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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