On Monday, Killington Resort's website was updated to say the resort would reinstate a mask mandate, which requires all guests and employees, vaccinated or not, to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth while indoors or riding gondolas, “out of an abundance of caution to protect our team and others.”
The policy went into effect on Monday.
Kristel Killary, communications manager at Killington Resort, said the management was aware that COVID cases were on the rise and wanted to respond in a way that would make a visit safer for visitors and employees.
Killary pointed out the change only affected the policy for wearing masks while inside at the resort, not outside.
The policy also affects the Pico Mountain Ski Resort, which is, like Killington, owned by Powdr Corp.
While Killary noted the policy had just recently changed, she said on Tuesday, reaction to the masking policy, based on social media posts, was divided with some visitors accepting it readily and others more annoyed.
“At the end of the day, we're in charge of the safety of our guests and our staff and the community so we have to do what's right for the community,” she said.
Killary said most people are now used to taking precautions because of the pandemic. She said many guests were also used to wearing face coverings on a ski vacation for warmth so for some visitors, it was not a big change.
The change in policy was promoted on the Killington Resort website, their “condition” page, which Killary said traditionally gets a lot of visitors as people check the snow conditions, through text and email, as well as on a road sign on the way to the mountain.
Indoors, masks are required for all, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required while seated, actively eating or drinking.
Masks are required at the Pico Fitness Center unless actively working out.
There are no restrictions on the number of people who can be in a dining area or indoor space.
Outdoors, masks are required to ride in gondolas and on resort shuttles and The Bus, regardless of vaccination status. The requirement for the shuttles and bus are based on a federal mandate.
Masks are not required in lift lines or on chair lifts. Lift mazes have returned to regular spacing. Lift attendants will dispatch guests to load each chair at full capacity.
Physical distancing in lift lines occurs organically due to the length of skis and snowboards, according to Killington staff.
Management at Killington Resort is requiring all employees be fully vaccinated after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced vaccinations are required for all employers with more than 100 employees.
Bryan Rivard, director of communications for the Vermont Ski Association, said the association and its members were encouraging visitors to follow the “Know Before You Go” advice suggested by the National Ski Areas Association, which provides some guidance on how the pandemic is affecting the operations of ski resorts.
The website for “Know Before You Go” can be found at nsaa.org/skiwellbewell online, which encourages skiers to consult the website of the mountain they plan to visit to get the latest information on the policies they will find when they reach their destination.
He noted conditions were changing frequently as the medical community and state and national leaders respond to the latest information about COVID, but said neither the state association or the ski industry had instituted a mask policy or mandate for all members.
However, Rivard said skiers should consider having a mask with them and a mask for all guests in their group to be prepared for any virus-spread prevention policy a particular resort may have in place.