Face coverings will be mandatory at P.E.I. ski park, even outdoors

·2 min read

Face coverings will be mandatory for everyone at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I., this winter, officials say.

The province posted plans for the park on the provincial website Thursday, outlining how things are going to work this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. They made the changes in co-ordination with public health on P.E.I.

Like all indoor spaces on P.E.I., masks will be mandatory indoors at the park — and face coverings will be required outdoors while snowboarding or skiing downhill or cross-country.

"Just to be on the side of caution and be safe," said Erin Curley, the assistant superintendent for the park, in an interview with CBC Radio: Island Morning Friday.

Face coverings can include a non-medical mask or a balaclava — those are commonly used by skiers for warmth anyway.

Chairlift bubbles

Curley said skiers will be encouraged to only stay in the lodge as long as it takes to warm up then head back outside, to limit contact with one another indoors, including staff. Ski rental areas will have capacities listed on the doors, and staff will monitor those and other lodge areas.

Sarah MacMillan/CBC
Sarah MacMillan/CBC

The canteen in the lodge will be closed, Curley said, but they have vending machines to offer snacks. Washroom facilities will be open but capacity will be limited.

What about the chairlift? Curley said the rules for the quad chairlift are different because it is outdoors, and officials are still deciding how they will line up skiers so they are physically distanced.

People are super excited to have an option for the winter to be able to get out. — Erin Curley

"We are encouraging family and friend bubbles to use the same chair and if you're not part of a family-friend bubble, to ride alone," Curley said, noting this could mean longer lineups on busy days.

The park will offer downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing and fat biking. But it won't be able to offer a repair shop or locker rentals.

Ski school sold out

All the 260 weekend ski school slots for kids this year are sold out, Curley said, because they had to reduce numbers to allow for physical distancing. Last year the school taught about 475 children on weekends.

"It is a considerably lower number this year, but it all comes back to what we felt we could manage safely," Curley said.

Season passes to the park are also selling briskly. So far the park has not set a limit on those.

"People are super excited to have an option for the winter to be able to get out," Curley said.

Closer to the beginning of ski season, the ski school will begin taking bookings for private lessons.

Their target opening date is Dec. 19, and will depend on whether there is enough snow.

"Every chance we get, we'll make snow," Curley said.

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