Ontario ski hills are reopening but many worry about visitors from COVID-19 hotspots
As part of Ontario's plan to gradually ease pandemic restrictions, ski hills are set to reopen, and some people are worried about travellers coming in from COVID-19 hotspots, like Toronto.
Ski resorts across the province were among the non-essential businesses forced to close when Ontario imposed a provincewide shutdown on Dec. 26.
Many questioned why ski hills were singled out, when other outdoor activities, such as skating, were allowed to remain open.
But now they've been given the official go-ahead to reopen once their public health units transition back to the province's colour-coded COVID-19 reopening framework.
In eastern regions such as Hastings Prince Edward, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington and Renfrew County they're allowed to open tomorrow.
Meanwhile, other regions like Ottawa, Collingwood and Thunder Bay are hoping to open on Feb. 16.
Toronto, Peel and York regions must wait until at least Feb. 22.
Many welcomed the news that ski hills are going to be back up and running.
"We've been hoping for some good news, for getting our operators up and running again," Kevin Nichol, president of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association, told CBC. "We're hoping that we'll get a good spring season to make up for some of the losses."
"Finally !! Never ever should have closed to begin with!!" said Kathy Morrison in a Facebook comment.
But others expressed concerns.
"SO happy the ski hills are opening. But I think we need to be cool about it, and play in our own regions. If people start travelling to hills out of their region, they'll shut it down (again)," wrote Terence Hayes on Facebook.
"What are you going to do to ensure that the hill is not flooded with people from stay at home areas?" questioned Keith Logan.
Nichol told CBC that the hills will continue to operate with heightened safety protocols like they were before the shutdown.
"We're just going to pick up where we left off," he said. "We'll fine tune some of our protocols and we're pretty confident that we can operate safely."
The safety protocols include: wearing a mask that covers your entire mouth, nose and chin while on a chairlift and hills that reopen in red or grey areas have capacity limits of 50 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.
Further, while lessons will be allowed at hills in regions that aren't in the grey zone, they are subject to in-person teaching regulations, physical distancing and capacity limits.
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