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Skiing is back in Colorado for lucky few with reservations

May 27, 2020 GMT
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Signs stand at the lines to the lift at the reopening of Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, which closed in mid-March to help in the effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Keystone, Colo. The ski area is the only one in the state to take advantage of the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions by Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Signs stand at the lines to the lift at the reopening of Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort, which closed in mid-March to help in the effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Keystone, Colo. The ski area is the only one in the state to take advantage of the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions by Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Skiing is back in Colorado after a more than two-month closure caused by the coronavirus, but only a few have been lucky enough to score reservations at the only reopened resort in the state.

Arapahoe Basin near the Continental Divide west of Denver opened Wednesday with restrictions and at limited capacity, allowing only 600 skiers and snowboarders on the mountain.

Alan Henceroth, the resort’s chief operating officer, told The Denver Post about 4,000 people tried to make online reservations Monday night “and it just crushed the system.” The resort replaced it with a random drawing.

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Arapahoe Basin, which along with other resorts was forced to close in mid-March, normally attracts 1,000 to 2,000 skiers and riders on weekdays in May and more than 3,000 on weekend days.

“We had to reduce numbers because a lot of people want to go skiing,” Henceroth told The Post. “We couldn’t have a crushing, busy day. That just wouldn’t work.”

Skiers and snowboarders wearing face coverings lined up 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart and were spaced out on the lifts Wednesday.

Restaurants at the resort remain closed, and the “beach,” the row of parking closest to the lifts, wasn’t hosting any of its typical raucous spring parties. Tailgating also is barred in all the parking lots.

All but 30 of the daily reservations were set aside for season pass-holders.

“This has been a brutal blow on our community, emotionally, socially, economically,” Henceroth said. “We’re just trying to get those first steps so we can get back on our feet.”

The resort, which tops out at 13,050 feet (3,977 meters) above sea level, usually stays open until early June and sometimes into early July, depending on the snowpack.

It joined Oregon’s Timberline Lodge and Ski Area and Mt. Bachelor in reopening. The Oregon resorts opened in mid-May after Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order allowing skiing and snowboarding to resume.

In other Colorado coronavirus developments:

— Restaurants across the state were allowed to reopen Wednesday at 50% of their posted occupancy limit.

Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday the spread of the coronavirus had slowed enough to justify reopening, but some owners are wary about opening too soon.

Christine Parisi, president of Parisi and Firenze a Tavola in Denver, told The Denver Post she would wait until at least June 8 to reopen.

“Rules, masks, signage, side eyes from other customers watching everyone’s move, constant sanitizing sessions, varying degrees of the public’s reaction to the requirements of the public … all make for a tangled web of very uncomfortable scenarios for a small business and my staff,” she said.

Others are still deciding how and when to reopen.

Restaurants are not allowed to have more than 50 customers inside at a time and can’t exceed 50% capacity unless they spread tables at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart outdoors.

The restaurant industry accounts for more than 294,000 jobs, about 10% of statewide employment.

—On party-line votes in both chambers, the Democrat-led Legislature approved a rule change allowing remote voting by lawmakers whose health is at risk because of the coronavirus. Republicans who oppose public health orders intended to stem the spread of the virus voted against the change.

—Democrats also introduced legislation that could allow workers to accrue at least 48 hours of employer-paid leave from their jobs if they are sick because of the pandemic.

— The city of Aspen has approved a gift card program that will give some residents $25 to spend at retail stores or restaurants to help stimulate the local economy.

The Aspen City Council voted Tuesday to approve the $50,000 program as part of the city’s $6 million coronavirus relief and recovery fund, The Aspen Times reported. More than 1,500 residents who received food tax refunds this year are eligible.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.