Vermont officials released guidance Tuesday on the operation of ski resorts and on school-based winter sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Skiers and riders must attest when they arrive at a ski area that they have read, understood and complied with Vermont's existing guidance on travel and quarantining, and ski resorts must collect and maintain contract tracing information from every guest, as well as reduce their lodge and lift capacity, Ted Brady, deputy commerce secretary, said Tuesday during the state's twice-weekly virus briefing.
“The guidance we’re issuing today aims to provide skiers and riders with the safest skiing and riding experience in the country," he said.
Lift capacity must be reduced by half except for a party that is traveling together, and an enclosed lift, such as a gondola, may serve only one party unless it's large enough to allow for 6 feet of distance between customers, like the tram at Jay Peak, Brady said.
“It requires the ski areas to considerably alter how they’re going to do business this winter," he said. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing is going to work with the ski areas to educate skiers and riders.
School sports will also be different this winter. Spectators will not be allowed at indoor sporting events, and wrestling and indoor track will not take place, said natural resources Secretary Julie Moore.
“Fully appreciating the important physical and mental health benefits school-based sports provide to our students athletes, supporting in-person instruction remains a priority. And as we continue to see clear evidence of just how fragile this can be with growing case counts and positivity rates both regionally, but also here in Vermont, we are taking necessary precautions,” she said.
All players and staffers, as well as referees and officials, must wear masks for indoor sporting events. The guidance also strongly discourages in-person team-based social gatherings this winter. Practice may begin Nov. 30, and teams may have interscholastic games, meets and competitions starting Jan. 11, 2021.
“Providing six weeks between the start of practice and the first games is intentional, allowing time for health officials to look for any trends that may emerge and make further adjustments if and as needed," Moore said.
In other news related to the coronavirus Tuesday:
THE NUMBERS Vermont reported 19 new cases of the coronavirus for a statewide total to date of 2,237. The total number of deaths has remained at 58. Vermont has had the lowest fatality rate in the country since the pandemic began, said Michael Pieciak, financial regulation commissioner, who is managing the state’s COVID-19 data.
An outbreak linked to sporting teams at a Montpelier ice rink has grown to 112 cases. The outbreak has caused a subsequent one at St. Michael's College, which has 65 cases, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.
Six schools also have been affected. They are Union Elementary School in Montpelier, South Burlington High School, Williston Central School, Frances C. Richmond Middle School, Barre Elementary School, Montpelier High School and Oxbow High School, he said.