Colorado resorts get ready for omicron as ski season starts, but they aren’t panicking yet

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Coronavirus pandemic health rules greet visitors to the free gondola from downtown Telluride, up and over the ski area and down to the Mountain Village resort, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

Colorado ski resorts are monitoring omicron, the new variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but have stopped short of instituting additional safety protocols — at least so far. 

For now, skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes using the same COVID-19 guidelines that were in place before omicron became a concern immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday. Different resorts have different rules, but a vast majority aren’t requiring people to wear masks outdoors, and, for the most part, reservations won’t be necessary.

As global health authorities try to figure out how big of a threat the omicron variant poses, Colorado’s resort operators are taking cues from local health authorities, according to Loryn Duke, a spokesperson for Steamboat.

“The relationship with our local health authorities allows us to adapt as necessary,” Duke said. “We are not adapting our policies or guidelines based on omicron, but … we are consistently evaluating our policies to make sure that they are supporting our goal of keeping our staff guests and community healthy.”

Other ski operators all had similar responses, and stressed the importance of being able to get outside during the pandemic.

“We are fortunate that the majority of our experience takes place outdoors, and we have focused our protocols on the indoor experience at our resorts,” Vail spokesperson John Plack said in an emailed statement.

Vail Resorts is requiring proof of vaccination to dine indoors at all of its North American resorts, which includes some of Colorado’s most popular destinations such as Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek.

In Aspen, guests are required to show proof of vaccination both to dine at some restaurants, as well as to stay at hotels owned by the resort.  Aspen Snowmass spokesperson Jeff Hanle is confident resorts will be able to run at full capacity for the duration of the season.

“The world and health organizations and businesses have learned how to work better and more efficiently than we did pre-vaccine,” Hanle said.