While some winter sports are postponed or paused due to COVID-19, Durham’s ski hills are working to open as soon as the weather allows.
However, this season will look different than normal, said Jennifer Osborne, director of operations at Lakeridge Ski Resort in Uxbridge.
Lakeridge is working diligently with Durham Region Public Health officials to ensure safety for employees and guests.
Dagmar and Brimacombe are also preparing to open for the season.
“Our resort is dedicated to public health and we will ensure all our safety protocols are established and monitored,” said Osborne.
Each guest is required to wear a mask on the slopes and indoors.
Osborne said guests can use their balaclava as a face covering on the hills but indoors it’s required to wear a proper mask.
Skiers and snowboarders already keep a social distance from one another on the slopes, most rules implemented regarding social-distancing take effect in the chalet and lift-ticket rental offices.
“You’re going to see a lot of change when it comes to picking up your lift ticket,” Osborne said.
Only 10 people will be allowed in each section of the building at a time.
“We have different areas that we can keep separated,” Osborne said. “So, 10 for washrooms, 10 for tickets, and then 10 for rentals.”
Extra sanitization and cleaning protocols will also be in place. In addition, all workers have also had COVID-19 training, Osborne said.
For the chairlifts, Osborne said if you arrive together you ride together, and single riders will not be required to ride with other guests.
Lakeridge is currently looking at introducing a reservation system to track the number of people on the slopes at one time. Osborne said that number has not yet been determined.
“We will most likely be asking our guests to reserve,” said Osborne.
She said for ski hills a pandemic isn’t necessarily their biggest issue. The increase of global warming has made winters shorter in Southern Ontario.
“We’ve been really lucky the last three years of being able to open early, last year we opened the earliest we ever had in 30 years, this year it looks like it’s not going to be one of those years,” Osborne said. “We hope Mother Nature will give us some cold weather and some snow.”
She said Lakeridge is excited to provide people with something to do this winter.
“Everyone is gloved and masked and goggled,” Osborne said. “It really gives you that opportunity to go out safely.”