The Canadian government has partnered with various representatives from the tourism and ski industries to agree on a way to move forward this year and open ski resorts. Similar to the European traffic light system, the Canadians are applying different rules based on whether zones are found in either red, orange or green areas.

The rules on the slopes

Everything needed is being done to make sure the ski resorts open this year. So, there are some general rules that will apply, regardless of whatever zone you are in.

While skiers are on the mountain, they must adhere to the 2-meter social distancing rule at all times. Not only that but they must wear a mask or face covering on the mountain. Neck warmers and balaclavas are being accepted as suitable. The mask is also required while lining up, riding ski lifts, and while warming up if indoors. The rules are only exempt for toddlers under the age of 3.

Mask wearing on the open ski resorts in Canada
Image: A snowboarder shows off her mask on the slopes

Red zone rules

Different rules will exist for skiers based on the status of the area they are in, with the red zones observing the strictest ones. While in a red zone, skiers are being asked to have and use their own equipment. Changing areas will not be available either. As a result, users are being asked to change into their gear in their cars. Carpooling, a method frequently used to share the burden of reaching the slopes is also being prohibited.

Travelling to another mountain from a red zone although it is not prohibited, it is not encouraged. Skiers in the red zones are also being asked to not go to restaurants or visit shops during their visits. Importantly for newer skiers, ski resorts and ski or snowboard instructors in those areas, many ski schools will not be opening.

Mont Saint-Bruno ski resort owner Michel Couture is appealing for at least the availability of private lessons, declaring “We have 32,000 students each year in our ski school. I hope that the government will relax its measures…”

Orange and green zone rules

The biggest differences in these areas are that access to equipment rental stores, as well as shops and ski schools will be available to all. However, safety measures will be in place, with all rental equipment being sanitized and cleaned after each day. In restaurants tables will be spaced adequately to allow for social distancing, and in shops capacity will be restricted. It is vital that visitors stick to the rules of each centre to make sure that ski resorts remain open.

A skier wearing a mask on the open ski resorts in Canada
Image: A skier using a face covering on a ski lift

Gondolas and ski lifts

The rules on the usage of gondolas and lifts does however seem to vary from resort to resort. Many resorts are giving the choice to clients whether or not they prefer and feel safer to use the lifts alone or in groups. If they do not mind, the full capacity of chairlifts and gondolas is being availed of, albeit with the strict use of face masks.

Big White Ski Resort_Canada. one of this year's open ski resorts
Photo: ©Big White Ski Resort – Canada

Plan ahead of time:

The ski centers are being asked to keep a record of all visitors. As a consequence, guests are being asked to always plan ahead, checking out the situation online of each ski resort that’s open before going and booking services in advance. Seasonal ski passes are being encouraged by most resorts.

The measures being implemented have been welcomed across the board from skiers, snowboarders and ski resorts alike. Charles Désourdy, president of Bromont ski resort, has said “it’s a relief”, continuing “it takes big pressure off to know we can open the business this winter.”

The Canadian Ski Council estimates that the total revenue generated by the ski areas amounts to around $1.4 billion dollars. This figure does not include the peripheral business’s income generated by tourism in these areas. The measures taken by the Canadian government will hopefully ensure the survival of the many enterprises associated with ski resorts while guaranteeing the safety of all users.