LYNCHBURG — Hitting the slopes at Wintergreen Resort is going to look different this season, with social distancing, capacity limits and a mask mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter from General Manager Rod Kessler posted to Wintergreen’s website, the resort is tentatively planning to open for the winter season Dec. 11 and will follow all local and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulations.
“There has been so much uncertainty since the COVID-19 pandemic first upended our lives. Among the many lessons learned are the importance of clear and consistent communication, the setting of realistic expectations, and the need for tolerance for unexpected changes,” Kessler said in the letter.
Wintergreen will require face coverings in “every part of our operation” and is making necessary changes to allow for physical distancing. Employee health will be monitored, and staff will be required to stay home if they are sick. Similarly, guests are encouraged not to visit if they are ill or have any symptoms of COVID-19.
According to the letter, the resort will adhere to capacity restrictions, enforced mainly through limiting the sale of daily lift tickets while prioritizing resort members and season pass holders.
“To what extent we might be required to limit on-mountain capacities is still unknown; however, we are confident any restrictions will be on a limited number of days and all guests will have access on the vast majority of days,” Kessler said in the letter.
In the event of there being limited ski terrain open, causing Wintergreen to control the number of skiers, including pass holders, the resort will implement an online advance reservation system.
Along with limiting the number of skiers allowed on the mountain, chair lifts will be loaded to adhere to social distancing guidelines applicable to the individual lift. Staff also will manage the number of people entering buildings, including base lodges and restaurants, the letter states.
Currently, under Gov. Ralph’s Northam’s Phase Three of reopening Virginia businesses, only 250 people or fewer are allowed indoors in a gathering space.
“We will do everything possible and practical to allow for physical distancing throughout the resort to help ensure a safe experience,” Kessler said.
The resort also is taking additional precautions pertaining to its ski school, rental equipment, food and beverage and hospitality operations.
According to the Virginia Department of Health website, as of Monday, Nelson County has reported 98 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, along with four hospitalizations and one death. The health district reported the first death in the county last week.
Season pass holders for the 2020-21 winter season have the option to defer the use of their pass until next season at no charge, the letter states.
Despite implementing safety protocols, a disclaimer warns exposure to COVID-19 is an “inherent risk” and cannot be fully eliminated. As a result, the resort asks skiers to comply with the new regulations.
“The resort has implemented protocols to prioritize guest health and safety, but we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed to COVID-19 during your visit,” the disclaimer reads. “Every skier and rider shares the responsibility for a safe and healthy skiing experience.”
Skiers who do not adhere to guidelines will be asked to leave, according to the letter.
For more information, updates or to read the letter in its entirety, visit wintergreenresort.com.