Arapahoe Basin Ski Area mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for employees |

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

Vail Resorts, Copper Mountain Resort mull decision on mandates after President Biden’s executive order for large private companies

A guest receives a lift ticket from an Arapahoe Basin Ski Area employee on March 17, 2021.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Friday, Sept. 17, it will mandate employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth said in a Friday blog post all of the ski area’s current, unvaccinated employees will have to receive their final vaccine shot by Nov. 2. Henceroth added that new employees will have one week from their start date to begin the vaccination process and six weeks to receive their final shot. The company’s mandate requires either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the double-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Henceroth said about 90% of the ski area’s staff is vaccinated as of Friday.

Henceroth added the ski area “does not take the decision lightly” as A-Basin “feels strongly that requiring employee vaccinations is its best step forward.” The COO added since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic “some guests felt A-Basin was too restrictive in its operations while others felt the ski area did not do enough.”

“Our intention is to protect the safety and well-being of our employees and guests and to keep our business open, viable and sustainable,” Henceroth said. “By requiring vaccinations, we will reduce the chance of employees transmitting and contracting the disease as well as reduce the amount of business interruption caused by employee absences related to illness and quarantines.

A-Basin spokeswoman Katherine Fuller said Friday the ski area will assist any employee who is disabled, who has a qualifying medical condition or situation that advises against vaccination, or who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs and practices. Fuller added the ski area “will engage in an interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be provided.”

Fuller also said ski area employees who do not fulfill the requirements will be suspended and subject to termination if not vaccinated within A-Basin’s outlined time frame.

On Friday, Fuller said A-Basin made its decision to mandate vaccinations for its employees prior to President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that all private companies with more than 100 employees will have to mandate vaccinations for employees or mandate nonvaccinated employees undergo weekly testing. The president’s administration has said they will enforce Biden’s executive order via a rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — a regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Labor — that carries penalties for privates companies of $14,000 per violation.

Fuller said A-Basin currently has about 150 employees. She added A-Basin employees will be paid for lost time due to getting the vaccination.

As for A-Basin’s guests, Fuller said at this time there are no new COVID-related restrictions, including vaccine mandates, for skiers and riders.

In the wake of Biden’s executive order, A-Basin is the only Summit County ski area or resort to commit to vaccine mandates for employees. Vail Resorts spokeswoman Loryn Roberson said in an email Friday that Vail Resorts is still discussing vaccine mandates as a company. Roberson said she will provide additional information “as soon as we are able to share more.” Vail Resorts’ two Summit County properties are Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort.

Dustin Lyman, Copper Mountain Resort president and general manager, said in an email statement on Friday that Copper is currently evaluating all options “that provide the best opportunity for everyone to enjoy a full season of skiing and riding.

“As we prepare for our Nov. 22 opening,” Lyman said, “we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as appropriate.”

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