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While the world is still grappling with COVID-19, skiers will find that their sport looks a bit more like it did pre-pandemic this season than last.
Most U.S. ski destinations — including the big resorts in Colorado, Utah and California — are doing away with or easing last year’s capacity limits on the slopes, mask requirements in lift lines and spacing between skiers on lifts, for example. But there are also some new COVID-19 vaccination requirements, and travelers need to remain aware that a destination's restrictions might change mid-season, depending on the pandemic’s unpredictable progress.
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Here are some tips for planning a safe, affordable and fun ski vacation this season.
1. Know the rules at your destination
Across the country and in general, you can expect ski areas to follow the health guidelines of the county where they’re located, making it all the more important to “know before you go this year,” says Chris Linsmayer, public affairs director for Colorado Ski Country, which represents 22 ski areas across the state. You don’t want to be surprised by a ski experience that’s too strict or too lax on COVID-19 safety measures for your liking.
- You may need to show proof of vaccination for some activities. Vail Resorts, for example, is requiring guests 12 and older to offer proof of COVID-19 vaccination to dine at indoor, on-mountain quick-service restaurants at all 34 of its North American ski properties. In Canada, some resorts, including British Columbia's Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Grouse Mountain, are also mandating vaccinations for anyone older than 12 to access the mountains. Many are requiring staff to be vaccinated as well.
- Mask rules are likely to apply indoors only. You can expect a loosening of mask requirements in lift lines at U.S. mountains — rules will vary by resort — but generally masks will be required only on public transport and in indoor spaces. They may still be required on gondolas or trams, even when not required on chair lifts.
- You’re less likely to need as many reservations. “Last season, many ski areas operated with capacity restrictions and therefore had various degrees of reservations, parking reservations, indoor capacity limits and other policies,” Linsmayer says. "We are not anticipating those being in place this winter.”