Ski areas make plans to safely reopen during pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash.– With ski season just weeks away, local mountains are putting in the work to reopen safely.

Mount Spokane General Manager Jim Van Loben Sels said it’s been a busy fall as they prepare for winter.

“We’re just excited that we will get to open and that our mountain is really prepared for the skiers and boarders,” Van Loben Sels said.

At Mt. Spokane, one of the biggest changes will be a limit on how many people can visit each day. Season pass holders don’t have to worry, but there will only be a limited number of daily tickets sold. Van Loben Sels said people have to buy those online ahead of time.

“It’s a little bit different than normal where a lot of people, culturally, are used to coming up to the mountain and buying their ticket at the ticket window. This year we’re trying to teach people to go online and purchase your ticket first. That way we know how many people are on the mountain at one time,” Van Loben Sels said.

Van Loben Sels expects to see plenty of people hit the slopes this year as families look for safe, outdoor plans during the pandemic.

“We’re prepared for that surge and that interest in outdoor recreation. That’s why we are limiting our daily ticket sales because we know there will be a high demand,” Van Loben Sels said.

Visitors will be required to wear a face covering in the lodges and outside when they can’t maintain six feet of distance between other people. Lodges will also be at 50 percent capacity, to meet state regulations. But, Mt. Spokane is taking every opportunity to expand outside. Van Loben Sels said they’re adding an outdoor bar at Lodge 2.

That’s not the only addition this year.

Van Loben Sels said chef Chad White will be revamping the lodge’s menu. Mt. Spokane visitors can expect new items and a shift to more grab-and-go meals.

Mt. Spokane will also be expanding hours, starting in mid December. Van Loben Sels said they’ll be open every day of the week during the height of the season.

“I hope the skiers come and are ready to just enjoy the snow and the outdoors,” Van Loben Sels said.

Van Loben Sels said discounted passes are still on sale. They’ll be hosting a job fair October 31.

Mt. Spokane isn’t the only ski area making changes this winter.

Sandpoint’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort will also limit the number of visitors each day. Spokesperson Dig Chrismer said the goal is to make sure pass-holders have unrestricted access and offer limited day ticket sales. Face coverings will also be required in all indoor spaces and the resort is “highly recommending” people follow social distancing practices.

Silver Mountain Resort has its own operating plan in place to respond to COVID-19 concerns. On the resort’s website, it says social distancing markers are in place with hand sanitizer available to guests. Read more HERE.

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