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Your guide to skiing in Ontario during COVID-19

Tuesday, December 1st 2020, 6:59 am - Ski and snowboard enthusiasts have more on their mind this season than just the weather. The COVID-19 pandemic will bring major changes to this ski season.

As Ontario still waits for the deep cold to set in across the province, many snow lovers are waxing their skies and wanting some questions answered.

“I can say that our resorts have put in 8 months worth of planning testing and consulting with resorts in the southern hemisphere as to what works best to protect our guests and to allow everyone to have a healthy and fun season,” Paul Pinchbeck CEO of the Canadian Ski Council tells The Weather Network.

In order to break down some of the new guidelines, we spoke to several experts in the ski industry to get a better feel for some of these changes.

Will I have to wear a mask?

“Face masks are going to be mandatory within the chalet, in the rental building, while you are in line, [and] while you are on the chairlift. That is a very important thing all across the board,” says Sarina Goad of Antoine Mountain near Mattawa, Ontario.

“Your balaclava can work as a face covering. That’s another question I have been getting alot of.”

UGC: Masks required during ski season in Ontario. Courtesy: Photo: Antoine Mountain Courtesy: Photo: Antoine Mountain

Visit our Complete Guide to Winter 2021 for an in depth look at the Winter Forecast, Canada's ski season, and tips to plan for everything ahead!

What will the après ski chalet experience be like?

"Indoor capacity is going to be the biggest difference this year," says Pinchbeck. "Capacity is going to be graduated along with the colour zone that the resort is in — 50% is the approximate starting point."

Goad also adds, "We have taken the time to space out the chalet so all guests can enjoy coming inside and warming up at a 2-metre distance. We need to keep that space whether it is in the cafeteria or lining up to get rentals."

UGC - Apres Ski. Masks required in the chalet. Courtesy: Anotine Mountain Face masks are going to be mandatory within the chalet, in the rental building, while you are in line, and while you are on the chairlift. Courtesy: Anotine Mountain.

Can I still get rentals?

Rentals will still be available this year as resorts have taken cleaning measures further than ever to ensure gear is sanitized.

“Another idea I have seen is some resorts doing year long rentals. So you will have the same gear every time you go. Only you have it for that whole season,” explains Sean Lasseter of Corbetts Ski + Snowboard.

Can I travel to ski?

"Travel rules are government lead," says Pinchbeck. "Grey and red zone residents are discouraged from travelling. Resorts would never encourage anyone in red or grey to travel. Just know that we are ready for them when they can travel."

Can I still get ski lessons?

Ski lessons will look different this year. Smaller groups will be a big theme. Some of the large programs like “Never Ever Days” will have to be tweaked in order to keep socially distant. Private lessons are likely to be a bigger offering this season.

“Book ahead. That is a big theme this season,” says Lasseter. “If you want a lesson or rental, you likely can’t just show up and expect to get one. Everything needs to be pre booked online.”

Will I ride the chairlift alone?

When it comes to the chairlift different resorts will have different guidelines.

“We are encouraging everyone who arrives together to ride together on a chairlift. If you are a solo rider and you want to ride alone that is okay too. However, people could feel very comfortable getting on a chairlift with one other person and spacing out. At Antoine Mountain we have open air chairlifts where air is constantly circulating and remember with your mask and gloves on you are wearing PPE,” explains Goad.

As the season quickly approaches resorts are also getting creative with the outdoor experience.

“Things like firepits and outdoor warming stations could help keep people outside and that will reduce gathering into the chalet to warm up,” Pinchbeck adds.

For many Canadians skiing is a huge part of enjoying winter in Canada. It looks like with the right preparation the season will be a successful one.

You can find more information on Ontario's ski and snowboard guidelines in the video that leads this article.

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