MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Hills and trails for downhill and cross country skiing are gearing up to open soon but they have increased precautions to follow this year due to COVID-19.
Mount Bohemia will not be renting equipment this year and will require social distancing and masks in crowded or indoor areas. They will also be conducting all ticket sales online to minimize face to face contact. Voodoo mountain will be closed but they will still offer lodging to groups in private accommodations only. Indoor areas of the buildings are closed except for bathrooms. They expect to open sometime in December. Other new procedures are listed on their website.
Ski hills will all be following similar procedures. The National Ski Areas Association has helped provide guidelines for ski hills to help keep their patrons safe. Interim Manager at Marquette Mountain, John Keating, says one major difference is how chair lifts will operate.
“In the lift lines we’re going to be enforcing social distancing a general rule of thumb is that if you rode together in the same car then you can ride the lift together,” said Keating. “If not then you’re going to be riding single, we don’t want people mixing with other people.”
Other differences include gearing up to ski in the parking lot, take-out only for dining with online ordering and different indoor procedures.
“COVID is going to change everything this year, the really neat thing is all of the ski industry, ski areas have been involved in creating a plan so we’re all pretty consistent,” said Keating. “We’d really like everybody to buy everything online, whether it be their season past, lift ticket, rentals and eventually ski lessons.”
Keating says they were hoping to open shortly after Thanksgiving day but mother nature needs to bring them colder weather first.
“We’re all ready to go the snow guns are out we’re just waiting for cold weather, we did get started a little bit, but now we need mother nature to help us out,” said Keating.
Ski Brule posted on their Facebook page that they will be relying on natural snow this year and don’t have a projected open date yet. They have a full outline of COVID-19 procedures on their website that follow similarly to the procedures in place at both Marquette Mountain and Bohemia.
The Chatham Ski Hill will have their cross country ski trails open as well as their ski and sledding hill. They will not have the warming chalet open for visitor,s however. Valley Spur will be following the same route and not opening their lodge. Their trails will continue to be groomed for the season. Blueberry Ridge’s warming hut will also be closed for this season.
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