The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for the ski industry that resorts across the world have been trying to tackle. Finding a system that works for both skiers and riders and that allows for the success of ski resort while at the same time prioritizing the safety of all has been a delicate balance that many resorts have found challenging, especially in their opening weeks. Yet another curveball presented itself is government mandates, which makes the ski season unsure and unclear for everyone, and even more difficult for resorts.
The Quebec Ski Areas Association (ASSQ), also known as Ma Neige Ski, has decided to go about tackling the immense challenge of the COVID-19 guidelines in their province by working on behalf of all Quebec ski resorts to put together guidelines for each tier of restrictions the provincial government has outlined. Could this be a model for what other provinces/states should be doing?
This one easy-to-read chart makes everyone in Quebec informed and on the same page regarding skiing. The most important thing about the ASSQ guidelines is that no matter how bad COVID-19 may be in a particular area, ski resorts will stay open. Currently, with cases at all-time highs, most resorts are in townships currently in the Level 4—Maximum Alert tier. This means skiing at its bare bones—no ski lessons, no racing/ski competitions, and strict limitations in lodges. Nevertheless, in the past week, resorts like Bromont, Stoneham, Mont-Sainte-Anne, Owl’s Head, Le Massif, Sutton, and Mont Orford have all opened their slopes.
This past Wednesday, December 16th, Quebec’s government announced a new two-week lockdown going into effect on Christmas Day. This means that only essential businesses will stay open, and large department stores such as Walmart will only be allowed to sell essential products. People are not allowed to congregate in any private setting, and travel is discouraged. When Quebec Premier François Legault announced these new lockdowns, he did mention that outdoor activities, including skiing and hockey, will still be allowed to take place, citing their importance for people’s mental and physical health. Although this is still a good sign, resorts may face additional troubles in encouraging people to get out on the slopes during these uncertain times.
What There is to Learn:
As many public health experts have said, one of the most important parts of handling a pandemic is streamlined and clear communication. The Quebec ski resorts have seemed to do this better than anywhere else I have seen during COVID, with clearly outlined restrictions for the entire province.
Are you still confused about how ski resorts in your area are operating this winter? What could they do to improve their communication? We would love to hear from you below.