Another major ski resort in Colorado is requiring guests to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enjoy some mountain amenities.
While not required to board lifts, take lessons, rent gear or buy tickets at the window, Aspen Skiing Co. on Thursday announced vaccine proof would need to be shown when checking into hotels and before sitting inside full-service restaurants. Also for guests 12 and older, proof is expected for snowcat tours, "large-scale" events and "additional experiences where prolonged close contact while unmasked might occur," according to a news release.
Aspen's announcement cited a rise of COVID-19 infections around Pitkin County and the state. This month, Colorado saw its most coronavirus-related hospitalizations of the year.
The move closely matches one made by Vail Resorts, with properties including Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte. The company previously announced vaccine requirements for visitors gathering inside "quick-service, cafeteria-style restaurants."
Aspen's stance on hotels is a key difference.
“We want to provide the healthiest environment possible in order to give us the best shot at remaining open for the season and providing a safe work environment for our staff and the community at large," Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan said in the release.
Both his company and Vail Resorts — representing Colorado's most internationally renowned slopes — previously announced vaccine mandates for employees. In a season in which the industry anticipates the same worker shortage facing other businesses, smaller ski areas have been mixed in setting rules.
While major entertainment venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre have required proof of vaccine among customers, no Colorado ski area has announced such a requirement to enter.
The state Department of Public Health and Environment previously told The Gazette that "vaccinations are the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its variants, and it is key to ending the crisis caused by the pandemic."
The department expressed confidence "that Coloradans and visitors can safely enjoy the great outdoors" this winter.
Vail Resorts does not plan on returning last season's reservations to ski. Other ski areas have dropped their restrictions aimed at limiting crowds.