Purgatory Resort has been cleared by San Juan Basin Public Health to open Nov. 21 with some accommodations required of visitors to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now reviewing the resort’s plan to open with skiing initially available on some 250 acres of terrain serviced by snowmaking and perhaps several other trails if natural snow allows, said Purgatory Resort General Manager Dave Rathbun.
Masks will be required for guests 11 years and older while indoors and when a physical distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained by skiers.
Purgatory advises anyone at high risk for COVID-19 who cannot wear a face mask because of medical problems to not visit the resort this season.
“Our resort’s mission is to give people the freedom to ski, and we know after last season’s abrupt end, our community is anxious to get back on the slopes,” Rathbun said. “We genuinely appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate and adapt to these changing COVID-19 policies.”
Besides face masks, other measures will be in place to contain spread of the novel coronavirus. Measures will include:
All lift tickets, lessons and ski rentals will be sold online in advance. Information about purchases will be loaded on a new lift-access card, the Purgatory Card, to eliminate personal contacts during purchasing or delivery of rentals and services.A new online food-ordering service will be used to reduce personal contacts, manage transaction times, and monitor the number of guests indoors at any one time.Chairlift procedures will require related parties to self-group to ride together. Unrelated skiers may share three-, four- or six-person chairlifts with one seat between each party. No one will be required to ride with a stranger.Access to indoor spaces will be limited and controlled, based on SJBPH’s COVID-19 alert level at the time. Guests should plan to be outside more this season, especially during peak days. Vehicles should be used as a base lodge locker where skiers boot up and store all items not needed during the ski day. Buildings will have strict capacity restrictions for restroom use, food order pick-up, and time-limited seating for dining or warming up.Group gatherings and tailgating in the parking lots or other public areas will not be permitted. Only related parties that arrive at the ski area together will be allowed to gather and group sizes must be 10 people or fewer.Compliance with all public health and governor’s executive orders, resort policies, and directions of resort management and personnel will be enforced by Purgatory’s COVID-19 Action Team with support from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.All employees will complete and pass a symptom and exposure screening as well as a temperature check before being permitted to begin their shifts.All lodging, Ski & Snowboard School and Purgatory Snowcat Adventure guests will also be required to pass a symptom and exposure screenings before arrival at the resort.
SJBPH Environmental Health Director Brian Devine, who is also serving as deputy incident commander for COVID-19 response, said Purgatory has worked with the health department since mid-October to review its plan to operate safely during the pandemic.
“Purgatory’s team put together a detailed plan that complies with the state’s ski area guidance and has the ability to grow and contract operations in line with La Plata County’s position on the state’s COVID-19 Dial,” he said in an email.
SJBPH completed review of Purgatory’s plan on Friday. The plan is now undergoing required review by the CDPHE, Devine said.
“We will have regular check-ins with Purgatory’s leadership team throughout the ski season to make adjustments as needed,” he said.
Devine said everyone should practice safe ski-trip habits during the upcoming season to minimize the region’s risk from the virus. Safe practices include:
Travel to the mountain, ski, ride and socialize, especially in indoor spaces, only with members of your own household.Don’t visit the mountain if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you’ve been notified of close contact with someone who has COVID-19.Wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and in outdoor spaces where you can’t maintain 6-foot distance from other people, including on chairlifts and in outdoor dining areas.[email protected]