Vail Resorts announces winter operating plans, which require COVID-19 vaccination of employees and diners at quick-service restaurants |

Vail Resorts announces winter operating plans, which require COVID-19 vaccination of employees and diners at quick-service restaurants

Outdoor mask requirement, on-mountain reservation system dropped

Skiers mill around the base of Breckenridge Ski Resort on May 12. Vail Resorts has announced its safety protocols for the upcoming ski season, which include vaccination requirements for employees and some diners as well as the relaxation of mask and physical distancing rules.
Ashley Low/For the Summit Daily News

Vail Resorts has announced its winter operating plan for the 2021-22 season. The most notable changes include the requirement for employees and some dining patrons to be vaccinated, as well as the elimination of the ski reservation system and outdoor mask requirement.

In a news release, Vail Resorts officials said passholders will not need to use a reservation system to get on the mountain this year, and chairlifts and gondolas will be loaded at normal capacity. In addition, masks will be required only in indoor settings.

Dining is where things get more complicated.

Anyone 12 or older who wishes to dine at an indoor, cafeteria-style restaurant on the mountain must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. This includes ski and ride school students ages 12 and older in programs that include lunch.

Keystone Resort spokesperson Loryn Roberson explained in an email that proof of vaccination is required at quick-service restaurants because they are higher volume, higher density locations with multiparty seating options. Proof of vaccination will not be required at full-service restaurants, which Roberson explained is because these restaurants are more spacious and have party-specific seating.

Details on the vaccination verification process will be released ahead of the season on resort websites, according to the release.

“Consistent with many other large-scale indoor activities and venues, Vail Resorts believes the vaccine requirement is important for the protection of its guests and employees, given the number of people using these facilities and the fact that guests will not be wearing face coverings while eating and drinking,” the release stated.

The release pointed out that the requirement to be vaccinated to dine indoors at quick-service restaurants is the only resort activity that requires vaccination, unless further vaccination rules are required by public health agencies.

Similar to last season, reservations must be booked to eat at on-mountain restaurants, but there will be greater seating capacity.

In addition, all Vail Resorts employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This announcement follows news of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s employee vaccine requirement, as well as President Joe Biden’s announcement that businesses with over 100 employees must prepare for new mandates that will require them to either be vaccinated or regularly tested. Vail Resorts employees will also continue to wear masks indoors and undergo daily health screenings.

The release noted that this season’s safety protocols are subject to change based on the evolving nature of the pandemic, as well as public health guidelines.

A variety of responses and reactions to Vail Resorts’ plan for the season quickly sprung up on social media after the announcement.

Dave Hale saw the announcement as positive overall and was happy to hear outdoor mask requirements had been dropped. He noted that he thinks on-mountain restaurants will lose money due to the vaccination requirement.

Sara McEvoy wrote in a Facebook message that when it comes to the vaccine requirement at quick-service restaurants, a negative COVID-19 test requirement would be more effective. She noted her discontent that the announcement was made after season passes were sold.

On the other side of the vaccine mandate debate, Justin Wiencek wrote in a Facebook message that he believes the company should simplify things and require all customers to be vaccinated.

In a Facebook message, Shane Waldron questioned why diners needed to be vaccinated and masked.

“If the vaccine is effective, there is no need for masks. If the vaccine is ineffective, then require masks but no vaccination card,” Waldron wrote.

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