Participation in activities at ski resorts may involve close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces or objects. The chances of COVID-19 spreading during these activities depends on the properties of the setting, the number and characteristics of people who attend (e.g. age, maturity, physical ability, comprehension), proximity, durations and types of interactions between participants, as well as the mitigation measures put in place by employers and facility managers.
Each ski resort may have unique layouts and amenities. Assess the risk for each activity and interaction separately. Employers should consider the following:
Will skiing, snowboarding, lessons, rentals, shopping and indoor dining activities continue to be offered? If so, the number of visitors may need to be reduced.
How many people will workers interact with and how close are the physical interactions? The risk of transmission increases with close and frequent contact.
How long are the interactions? Evidence indicates that person-to-person spread is more likely with prolonged contact.
Does the size of the resort allow for physical distancing? If not consider reducing maximum capacity.
Do workers and visitors frequently have contact with high touch surfaces or objects? If so, the frequency of cleaning and disinfection will need to be increased.
Will equipment rental be available, or will visitors be required to bring their own? Will equipment be shared between participants or assigned to a specific person or group? Shared equipment requires additional time for cleaning and disinfecting between users.
Are activities (e.g. skiing lessons) done by individuals separately or at the same time in a group setting? Activities may require fewer participants or only be offered to groups with members of the same immediate household.
Does the activity require intense physical effort (increased or forceful breathing)? This type of activity may increase the risk for aerosol transmission.
Does the activity involve loud verbal instructions (e.g. yelling or shouting)? Consider using a speech amplifier for instruction rather than shouting (disinfect all equipment between uses). If playing music, keep the sound low. Ask visitors to refrain from singing, shouting or yelling.
Are you anticipating or observing crowds at certain locations? Consider asking visitors to pre-book all activities including dining reservations rather than allowing them to drop in.
Will change rooms and shower facilities be available to visitors? Keeping them open will require frequent cleaning and disinfecting, posting capacity limits and installation of physical distance visual aids (e.g. floor markings).
Consider additional measures to protect workers or visitors who are at risk for more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 such as allowing telework or avoiding close contact situations.
Recommendations for Ski Resorts
Clearly communicate to your visitors any new practices and policies that will affect their experience.
This information can be shared online, through advertisements, with notices at the front doors, and verbally by staff.
Ask visitors to arrive no more than 15 minutes before their reserved activity time and to leave promptly afterward.
Notify workers and visitors about any closures to amenities and services (e.g. restricted access to showers, lockers, washrooms, daycare, coat check).
Help visitors understand that protective measures and reduced services are necessary, and that their experience might be different. Ask them to be considerate of workers and other visitors.
Post signs throughout the facility and resort to encourage physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and mask wearing.
Make sure communication is suitable for people’s age, ability, reading level and language preferences.
Making High-Touch Surfaces and Objects Safe
Remove communal coat check areas and shared footwear or clothing storage areas. Allow employees to store their personal items separately or in sealed bins or bags if they do not have lockers.
Shut off water fountains or replace them with water bottle refill stations. Each person should use their own labelled water bottle.
Implement touchless ticket dispensing systems.
Skiers should not share equipment (e.g., poles, goggles, etc.) or any other equipment with anyone outside of their household.
Consider closing locker and coat check services.
Encourage visitors to keep equipment, clothing and towels in a closed gym bag when not in use, and to minimize its contact with shared surfaces.
Ask visitors to come ready for their activity and to leave equipment and extra clothing in their vehicles.
Implement a sickness policy for all employees and visitors. At a minimum the policy should include the following:
People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have recently been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case should not be allowed to work, give or take lessons or be on the slopes and participate in other activities.
Instruct employees to continuously self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
Allow employees to return to work after illness as recommended by your local public health authorities.
Symptomatic visitors should be denied entry and recommend to return home.
Screening and Response Plan
Consider screening employees as they report for their shifts (COVID-19 questionnaires are available from your local public health authority).
Implement a COVID-19 response plan. When an employee or visitor shows symptoms:
Immediately have the symptomatic person perform hand hygiene and wear a mask (preferably medical).
Immediately isolate the symptomatic person from others in a designated area or room.
Require the symptomatic person to go home, preferably avoiding public transportation.
Encourage the symptomatic person to stay in isolation at home and seek medical care (i.e., personal doctor, clinic, public health authority, telehealth) and follow their instructions.
Clean and disinfect all surfaces that the symptomatic person may have been in contact with.
Inform all employees that recently had close contact with the symptomatic person (maintaining privacy) that a potential COVID-19 case has been reported. Employees should closely monitor themselves for symptoms for the next 14 days and report any symptoms to their supervisor.
Begin contact tracing efforts. Consult with local public health authorities for guidance.
Set occupancy limits for the resort to allow for spacing people at least 2 meters apart. Install floor markings, and other visual cues where needed.
Do not exceed the maximum gathering and event limits for your jurisdiction.
Ensure that all activities, (e.g., gondola use, skiing, snowboard, in-house dining) follow physical distancing guidelines. For example, only members from the same household can assist skiers with physical contact.
Consider staggered times for gondola use and ski practices and lessons and require that only members of the same household sit together on gondolas, if 2 meter physical distance cannot be maintained.
Create cohort groups for structured activities (e.g., skiing lessons) where physical distancing would be difficult (e.g., instruction).
Prepare for exceptions to distancing guidance:
Anyone rescuing a distressed visitor, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with or without an automated external defibrillator.
Evacuating during an emergency.
Establish one-way routes where appropriate throughout the facility and resort to manage crowds and to promote physical distancing.
Rearrange and limit use of seating areas, visitor rooms, locker rooms, common areas, main lobbies and washrooms. For example, block off some lockers, benches, washroom stalls, showers and sinks.
Discourage unnecessary physical contact such as hugs, handshakes and high fives.
Cancel day care services.
Install plexiglass or other solid barriers between pieces of equipment, that are higher than head height. (e.g., at the reception area).
Implement a crowd control plan (i.e., barriers, signs, floor decals, fencing).
If possible, provide hand sanitizer stations that are touch-free.
Hand wash and sanitizer stations should be well stocked and easy to find near the entrance and other appropriate areas. Make sure they are accessible to persons with disabilities.
If providing portable toilets, also provide portable handwashing stations and ensure that they remain stocked throughout the duration of the event.
Make sure that ventilation systems of indoor spaces operate properly.
Ventilation systems should be adjusted to: Note: Consult an HVAC professional before making changes to the ventilation system.
Increase filtration efficiency to the highest level appropriate for the system.
Increase fresh air flow/percentage of outdoor air (i.e., increase percentage of outdoor air in HVAC air supply).
Limit use of demand-controlled ventilation; keep system running at the optimal setting.
Explore the use of portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units.
Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors or other methods. However, do not open windows and doors if it poses a safety risk.
Assign employees to work at only one location. Create cohort groups of workers that work the same shifts every week, if possible.
Stagger start, end and break times to limit the number of employees at entrances and break rooms.
Make sure employees are trained to work safely, including when replacing the duties of others.
Opt for outdoor settings, whenever possible (e.g., for staff meetings, instruction to visitors).
If there are fewer employees available, make sure essential roles are covered such as trained supervisors and first aid or emergency response team members.
Minimize contact during sign-in. Have the supervisor sign-in for people (or provide separate pens), or have people text the supervisor.
Use video or tele-conferencing for meetings and gatherings. If this is not possible, hold physically distanced meetings in open, well-ventilated indoor spaces or outside.
Consider using an online reservation system to help manage the number of visitors and to reduce waiting.
Provide a flexible no-penalty rescheduling policy.
Encourage online purchases of tickets, passes, and chair lift access.
Allow visitors to ski only for their allotted time so that the equipment and shared spaces (e.g. change rooms) can be disinfected between activities.
Restrict access to areas of the facility that visitors do not need to go.
Consider cancelling shuttle buses operations. Shuttles enable many people from different households and cohorts to be together in an enclosed poorly ventilated space for extended time periods.
Do not rotate or share coaches and trainers during a lesson or class. Have them involved with each individual visitor where possible.
Everyone should perform hand hygiene when entering and exiting the resort, after using washrooms, before and after resort activities, touching shared equipment and surfaces, handling money, before and after putting on/removing a mask, and before and after direct contact with another person.
Encourage good respiratory etiquette. Everyone should sneeze or cough into a tissue or into the bend of their arm instead of their hands.
Discourage visitors and employees from touching their eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Develop a cleaning and disinfecting program with a schedule and checklists for all areas and equipment. Include all shared work areas, facilities, and equipment between users or shifts.
Focus on high-touch surfaces and objects such as doors, counters, chairs, handles, railings, lounge chairs, table tops, debit machines and ATMs, touchscreens, phones, light switches, faucets, taps, sanitizer dispensers, diaper-changing stations, showers, water bottle refill stations, and any protective barriers.
Clean and disinfect shared equipment and fixtures (e.g., gondolas, lift chairs, skiing equipment) between each user.
Discourage the sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or come in contact with the face (for example, goggles).
Discourage the sharing of food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.
Rescue equipment should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
Remove soft furnishings and objects (e.g. magazines, newspapers) from viewing rooms and lounge areas that cannot be easily cleaned.
Use a household or commercial disinfectant to destroy or inactivate the virus. Use a disinfectant with a drug identification number (DIN), meaning it has been approved for use in Canada.
Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of products (e.g., wear rubber gloves, use in well-ventilated area, allow enough contact time for disinfectant to kill germs based on the product being used).
If approved household or commercial disinfectant products are not available, hard surfaces can be disinfected using a mixture of 5 mL of bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and 250 mL of water. Test surfaces before using a bleach solution. Bleach is corrosive, follow instructions for safe handling of bleach. Bleach solutions should be prepared daily, beyond 24 hours they lose their disinfectant properties.
If the use of liquids can be withstood, disinfect high-touch electronic devices (e.g., touch screens, pin pads, keyboards) with alcohol or disinfectant wipes.
Clean so that when the surface is wiped, the surface still appears wet.
Provide staff with training on cleaning and disinfecting procedures, adequate supplies, and access to required personal protective equipment. Check the product’s safety data sheet or label for safe use instructions.
Use dedicated re-useable cleaning materials (towels, sponges, mops, etc.) that can be washed using laundry soap and then dried completely.
Dispose of single-use tissues, wipes, gloves, and other cleaning materials in a plastic lined waste container. Empty garbage at least daily. Use disposable gloves when handling garbage.
Replace garbage bins with no-touch receptacles or remove lids that require contact to open.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Continue to use PPE for existing safety hazards and emergencies as directed by applicable laws and your employer.
Situations where PPE may be considered for protection from COVID-19 include:
Wearing gloves when cleaning as recommended by the product’s safe work instructions or safety data sheet.
Wearing disposable gloves when cleaning blood or body fluids in the event an ill individual requires direct contact (i.e. for emergency first aid).
Use of a pocket mask with a one-way valve to help protect themselves should resuscitation (i.e. mouth to mouth) be required. Follow updated protocols for providing first aid.
If workers need to wear PPE, train them on how to wear, remove, work with, and care for the equipment, and to understand its limitations.
Clean and disinfect any shared PPE before you wear it.
Wash hands before wearing and after removing PPE.
Implement a mask wearing policy (specifying when, who and where masks are required), even if not required to by local public health authorities.
Clearly indicate which outdoor areas require a mask using banners and signs (e.g., lift and gondola lines, equipment rental shops, food stalls, rest areas).
Consider requiring employees wear non-medical masks while at work anywhere on the property, including all lift operators, ski patrol (first aid), instructors, servers, kitchen staff, desk staff, rental shop, operators, etc.
When teams respond to trauma calls, require employees to wear medical masks and provide one for the individuals being treated, if appropriate.
Mask wearing is not required when eating or drinking.
The policy should also discourage the use of face coverings such as scarfs, neck gaiters/warmers or valved masks. These face coverings are not suitable alternatives to non-medical masks.
Consider having disposable non-medical mask dispensers at key locations such as village, lodge and chalet entrances.
To protect yourself and others, wear a non-medical mask when:
indoors in a shared space (e.g., workplaces, retail shops, lodges) with people from outside of your immediate household
outdoors and physical distancing is difficult to maintain or is unpredictable (e.g., rental shops, skating rinks, slopes, line ups, chair lifts)
as advised to by the local public health authority
Individuals who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes should wear a non-medical mask, or a medical mask if available.
A mask should not be worn by anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance (e.g., due to their age or ability).
Wear the mask correctly, making sure your nose and mouth and chin are covered without gaping.
Remind all visitors and employees to avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
Workers should be instructed to only touch the loop or straps while removing it and to wash their hands afterwards.
Train all staff to be aware of the limitations of non-medical masks, and that improper mask use and disposal can increase the risk of infection.
Instruct employees to change their mask if it becomes wet or soiled. They may wish to bring a second mask in a clean paper bag, envelope, or container that does not trap moisture.
Reusable soiled masks should be stored in a separate bag or container.
Consider using a transparent mask or face shield, if appropriate, for individuals that may require that visibility.
Do not allow the mask to be a hazard to other activities, such as getting caught on moving machinery or equipment.
Remind all employees and visitors that non-medical mask wearing alone will not prevent transmission of COVID-19; but is very effective as part of a layered approach including consistently applying personal preventive practices (e.g. physical distancing, personal hygiene, etc.).
It is important that mental health resources and support are provided to all workers, including access to an employee assistance program, if available.
Note that this guidance is just some of the adjustments organizations can make during a pandemic. Adapt this list by adding your own good practices and policies to meet your organization’s specific needs.
Disclaimer: As public and occupational health and safety information is changing rapidly, local public health authorities should be consulted for specific, regional guidance. This information is not intended to replace medical advice or legislated health and safety obligations. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.