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No day tickets this season: Calif. finally issues COVID guidelines for ski resorts

If you want to go skiing this winter, state public health officials say you’ll have to make plans in advance.

California ski resorts can no longer sell day-of ski tickets and must limit capacity on the mountain, according to new COVID guidance for ski resorts released Tuesday evening by state public health officials. Skiers and snowboarders must have a season pass, advanced reservation or a pre-purchased lift ticket to access resorts. Parking lots must also be limited to passholders or visitors who have a pre-purchased ticket or reservation.

As coronavirus cases accelerate, the new guidelines allow for ski resorts to continue operations in all tiers of the state’s COVID blueprint, so long as businesses make specific modifications. Nevada, Placer and El Dorado counties — where Tahoe’s ski resorts are located — are in the purple and most restrictive tier in the state’s coronavirus reopening plan. So is Mono County, which includes Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

Many ski resorts in California have already opened and they have all taken steps to limit the number of skiers and snowboarders on the mountains. Over Thanksgiving weekend, signs stationed at the entrances to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows welcomed passholders, but announced that no lift tickets were being sold. Vail, which owns and operates Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood in Tahoe, implemented a reservation system for all of their Epic passholders to spread crowds out on the busiest days. Other ski resorts, like Sugar Bowl and Homewood, capped season pass sales.

Skiing, itself, is a low-risk activity, at least for COVID. It’s the places where people gather on the mountain that public health officials are concerned about. The new guidelines have provisions for chairlifts and gondolas, ski rentals and gatherings on the ski hill. The direction expands on the Outdoor Recreation guidelines, which is what ski resorts had already been following in order to open in time for the holiday weekend. Ski industry officials have also been in close communication with county health officials to develop individual plans ahead of the ski season. Read from source….