VAIL, Colo. (KDVR) — Skiers and snowboarders may not need a reservation this season at Vail Resorts’ several Colorado mountains, but they will need to bring something if they want to dine indoors: proof of vaccination.
Vail Resorts is one of the first major Colorado companies to release restrictions ahead of the 2021 – 2022 ski season. The company owns Colorado ski resorts at Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckinridge, Crested Butte and Keystone, and dozens more across the country.
2021-22 COVID rules at Vail Resorts
According to new protocols, Vail will not have a mountain reservation system, and load lifts and gondolas will be at normal capacity.
Face coverings will be mandatory in indoor settings, from restaurants and lodging to restrooms and retail. Masks will be required on buses, but won’t be required outdoors in lift lines, gondolas or chairlifts unless required by local public health authorities.
Dining reservations will still be in place but will open one day prior, and Vail Resorts expects more capacity at dining locations than last year.
The big change is vaccine requirements. Guests ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination for indoor cafeteria-style services.
“Consistent with the approaches taken by many other large-scale indoor events and venues, we believe this requirement is necessary given the number of guests using these facilities and the fact that guests will not be wearing face coverings while eating and drinking,” the company said under the frequently asked questions section of their release on the season.
Vail Resorts plans on releasing more details on how to verify vaccination status ahead of the ski season.
Vail Resorts employees respond
A number of Vail Resorts employees were quick to praise the decision Tuesday, saying it will help them feel safe at work.
“I think I’m going to feel a lot less nervous and less anxious,” ski instructor Diana Brickell said on Tuesday.
Brickell said she had multiple conflicts last season after reminding people to wear their masks in lift lines and on buses.
“It was just extremely stressful, and it made skiing difficult and onerous, and every time I went out, whether I was in uniform or not, I really had to gear myself up to kind of having these conflicts with people,” she said.
The company is also requiring vaccinations for its employees and will have them undergo daily health screenings. Brickell said the mandate will allow employees to feel more comfortable around co-workers indoors.
Other employees, however, are calling the mandate an overreach by management.
“It’s a great job, and I wish I didn’t have to quit because of something like this,” Zach Maxey said.
Maxey, who said he’s not vaccinated, works in life maintenance at Keystone and said he doesn’t think the company should be allowed to require vaccinations.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to tell me what I should, or shouldn’t put in my own body,” he said. “There’s plenty of people who are totally on board with the vaccine, and then there are people who aren’t, and I just wish that all of our views were respected.”
He thinks the decision could have a negative impact on staffing, which is already an issue at resorts across Colorado.
“I think they’re going to lose employees, and I think they’re going to lose employees that are key employees,” he said. “They’re going to have a really hard time operating.”
Others don’t think it will be an issue. Nearly 95% of Summit County residents have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the county health department.
Arapahoe Basin is also mandating vaccination for its employees, along with Aspen Snowmass.