This is what ski hills in Ontario were like the first week of reopening
With all but three regions of Ontario now past our long-running blanket shutdown and able to open at least somewhat according to the province's colour-coded framework, ski hills are finally welcoming residents once more, to the delight of all those who've been desperately waiting for a chance to hit the slopes this season.
As we open our doors with excitement, please remember to plan ahead & be safe. Follow the guidelines based on your region. For more information on hours of operation, things to do, protocols & more, visit Blue Mountain Village website at https://t.co/Ub2HXbbzSI #powder pic.twitter.com/3aVMNv4W7p— AndrewSiegwart (@Andrew_BlueMtn) February 16, 2021
As expected after weeks of such acute lockdown, resorts in Southern Ontario say that opening week 2.0 was a resounding success, with lifts, lines and hills bustling, but well-managed as far as physical distancing and other health and safety regulations are concerned.
With reduced capacity limits, tickets sold out rapidly online across the board for last week and weekend, and are quickly booking up for the coming weeks, too, with Saturdays and Sundays understandably being the most popular.
Blue Mountain, the largest ski hill in the province, currently only has weekday availability remaining through to the second week of March, with even some days and nights during the next three weeks already sold out.
Horseshoe Resort is likewise sold out of adult day and day 'n night tickets for this coming weekend, while Snow Valley only has adult night tickets available. Mount St. Louis Moonstone, meanwhile, shows no availablility for the remainder of February after tomorrow.
Those who managed to nab lift tickets for the first week back in operations were also gifted with a huge and well-timed dump of fresh powder around the Barrie region, which has made for "some of the best conditions ever right now," according to a representative from Horseshoe, which is just over an hour's drive from Toronto.
"The whole experience, from lift ticket purchase to apres ski, is now taking place outside, and with such great weather, skiers and boarders seemed to be loving it," the resort told blogTO, adding that there were no issues or incidents involving new COVID-19 protocols.
"Our guests all seemed thrilled to be back on the slopes, and more than cooperative with our requirements of face coverings and distancing."
Along with restricting the number of patrons both on the hills and indoors and requiring pre-booking for all amenities, facilities have been revamped to be more conducive to physical distancing, and additional staff hired to enforce things like mandatory masking.
"We built in six foot corridors between each line to space out household groups, and also have ambassadors and our newly formed Safety Education Team walking the lines to ensure mask compliance and spacing is being adhered to," a spokesperson for Blue said.
Employees also did their best to ensure no wait for a chair lift was longer than 10 minutes to avoid crowding, while the resort encouraged people from regions where stay-at-home orders are still in effect to follow their local public health guidelines — in essence, to stay home for now.
Blue Mountain today ...— Ryan Molloy (@ryemolloy) February 22, 2021
The high majority of these people are not from the area but Grey Zones ! ie locked down, nothing open areas ...
I foresee a third wave coming ... pic.twitter.com/Mzl4XlKlIK
Social media posts on the scene over the last week show skiers and boarders having a blast and enjoying the outdoors, while some still worried that out-of-towners were making the trip up to enjoy a lessened form of lockdown outside Toronto and Peel, including being able to ski and grab a drink or meal at a bar or restaurant afterward.
Up until reopening, skiers and boarders had been protesting the closure of local hills, primarily due to the fact that such winter sports are, by nature, socially distanced and performed in open air.
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