Under the enhanced public health restrictions that are likely to be in place in until at least early January, skiers and snowboarders were granted a reprieve: outdoor ski areas can remain open unless closed by public health order.
And the moment Alberta was walloped by a gust of winter so strong it snarled traffic and disrupted commutes on Monday and Tuesday, slope enthusiasts were already on their way to the ski hills.
The roads to Sunshine Village ski resort, for example, were so overwhelmed with skiers earlier this week that the facility shuttered its access roads on Dec. 22.
But even though skiing is still allowed, the measures that have been in place since Dec. 13 have resulted in some enhanced safety measures on the mountain.
Here's what to expect:
Castle Mountain Resort
Castle Mountain has instituted a cap on daily ticket sales, and is now strongly recommending that guests buy their tickets online ahead of time.
Only single-day tickets are currently being offered.
The mandatory face covering rule is in effect, and takeout or brown-bag lunches are encouraged — and should be eaten in your vehicle.
Cohorts and families can use the chairlift as they normally would, while those riding alone, or in pairs, will not ride the lift with anyone outside of their cohort.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
No reservations needed at Kicking Horse yet, but the resort strongly recommends that guests purchase lift tickets online and in advance, as the resort is monitoring lift capacity.
Physical distancing and face coverings for anyone over two years old are necessary to hit the slopes at this resort.
Seating in Eagle's Eye Restaurant has been reduced and a maximum of six people per table is permitted. It's recommended to reserve a table in advance. Extra seating has been setup outside around the base of the resort.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
As of Dec. 22, reservations are needed to visit the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
The mask mandate is being enforced, and physical distancing rules are expected to be followed. "If you can touch a person with your ski pole, then you're too close," its website reads.
Takeout can be eaten outside or in your car, and retail and rental stores are open, but with reduced capacity.
Nakiska Ski Area
No reservations are needed at Nakiska yet, but on high demand days the resort says on its website that only a certain number of day lift tickets will be sold.
Physical distancing and face coverings are necessary to hit the slopes at this resort.
The resort is asking skiers to limit their stays in the food and beverage venues — 30 minutes for the cafeteria and 45 minutes in the Finish Line Lodge.
Sunshine Village Ski Resort
Banff Sunshine Village has temporarily capped its number of guests by restricting access — once the parking lot is full, further parking on the access road is not allowed for the time being.
Only parties who travelled to the resort together will be permitted to ride the gondola together, and face masks are required throughout the resort.
Rental and retail stores have remained open with reduced capacity, and the Sunshine Mountain Lodge is only open to those who are staying at the hotel.
Mount Norquay Ski Resort
Mount Norquay is offering single-day online ticket pre-purchase only for both the ski hill and the tube park.
Face masks are mandatory in lift lines and in the lodge, which is allowing 15 per cent capacity. Inside, grab and go items are available, limited seating is for household groups only, and absolutely no bags can be left in the lodge.
There are no group lessons on the hill, and Norquay's shuttle bus service has been suspended.
Canmore Nordic Centre
The centre is open for use for with some modifications. The Day Lodge is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily but there's no seating or showers available.Masks are mandatory in the lodge.
"Officers can issue fines for non-compliance of physical distancing and gatherings restrictions if required," the website says.
Meadow Hut is closed due to COVID restrictions. But washrooms are available in the XC Team Rooms and Biathlon Team Rooms buildings.
The Dec. 23 grooming update said to expect many trails to be snow covered. Natural snow trails have started to be packed and groomed but are not yet completed. Snowmaking is in progress on Bow Trail and Banff Loop.