HUNTER — Hunter Mountain was closed Wednesday due to a number of employees being out for COVID-related reasons.
“The safety of our employees and guests is our top priority and we will always ensure that we have sufficient safety personnel available for mountain operations prior to opening,” according to a statement from Hunter Mountain. “Unfortunately, this morning at Hunter Mountain, a number of ski patrollers excluded out of work relating to COVID-19 which is impacting today and tomorrow’s operations. We are assessing our ability to operate for the rest of this week and will provide updates on our social media channels and website tomorrow. We again apologize to our guests for any inconvenience.”
Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said he was unsure how many cases are linked to the resort.
“I know they didn’t have enough staff today or yesterday, but I’m not sure how many [cases] they had,” he said.
Linger was not aware of any plans to offer on-site testing at the resort.
“Our Public Health staff right now is working on the distribution of the vaccine for tomorrow,” he said. “We did reach out to [Hunter Mountain]. They’re kind of tight lipped on the situation. It’s a private business, so we don’t want to get too involved, but we told them we’re there for whatever they needed.”
Hunter Mountain, which is owned by Vail Resorts, did not respond to a request for comment.
Windham Mountain remained opened Wednesday and Director of Sales and Marketing Dave Kulis reported that things have been going smoothly this ski season.
“We really appreciate the patience and understanding of our guests,” Kulis said. “This is obviously a challenging time for everybody involved.”
Education has played a key role in keeping staff and patrons safe, Kulis said.
“It’s been an education process not only for our staff but our guests as well,” he said. “We really worked hard to get the message out in terms of pre-arrival messaging, in terms of our website and social media, and letting people know what to expect when they get here. When they do arrive here, there is a tremendous amount of signage and reminders that this is a mask zone and we are requiring masks here at Windham Mountain for virtually every aspect of our business. I would say 95% of people have been totally great about it. There have been a few that we had to give gentle reminders to.”
Guests are encouraged to visit the resort’s capacity calendar online. On “red” days, tickets will be available online until they sell out, Kulis said. On “green” days, tickets can also be purchased at the ticket booth.
“Our season passholders are not required to make a reservation,” Kulis said. “We accounted for them in our capacity.”
The resort has been sold out frequently on weekends during the holiday season and is seeing higher ticket sales mid-week, Kulis said.
All staff complete a daily health screening before reporting to work, Kulis said.
“We have had people who have been excluded from work due to the way they’ve answered the questions,” Kulis said. “I think through the screening process we are able to identify things before they come to work. We have not had any active cases within our working employees.”
The resort keeps contact information for guests should contact tracing become needed, Kulis said.
Both ski resorts have taken measures to abide by state COVID-19 guidelines.
Ski resorts must have their indoor facilities capped at 50% capacity, with outdoor capacity reduced by 25% on peak days. In addition to capacity restrictions, other state guidelines for ski slopes include limiting lifts to members of the same party, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of rental equipment, requiring masks when not eating, drinking or skiing, social distancing between parties and limiting ski lessons to no more than 10 people.
Hunter Mountain implemented a new reservation system this season, which gives pass holders priority access to the mountain.
“This reservation system is a tool to help us manage [our] capacity and be out front in our approach to keep you safe all season long,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in a video on Vail Resorts website. “We want to be prepared, be safe and provide peace of mind to our guests.”
Greene County reported 358 active cases Tuesday, which includes 40 inmates at Coxsackie Correctional and 100 residents at adult-care facilities. More than 500 residents were on quarantine and 34 residents have died from the virus.
Greene County Public Health will be administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday and Friday at the Robert C. Antonelli Senior Home in Catskill from noon-4 p.m.
Individuals who are eligible to receive the vaccine have been contacted by Public Health, Linger said.
Those eligible for vaccination in Phase 1A are residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate-care facilities; high-risk hospital workers; federally qualified health care employees; emergency medical services workers; coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers; staff and residents at the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health and Office of Addiction Services and Support facilities; urgent care providers and people who are administering COVID-19 vaccines.