Tahoe area ski resorts plan to reopen with new COVID-19 restrictions; masks will be required

At this point, Whitman told us, Heavenly and Northstar plan to open the weekend before Thanksgiving and Kirkwood the first weekend in December, if the the weather cooperates.
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been nearly six months since Northern California ski areas had to abruptly close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While we're still in the midst of that pandemic, Tahoe area resorts are preparing to reopen once the snow flies under a new COVID-friendly model.

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For one thing, masks will no longer be optional as resorts plan for a brand new season and a reopening that includes a variety of new safety precautions.

"Now we are looking forward to welcoming back winter," said Susan Whitman, Tahoe Region Communications Director for Vail Resorts. "The core aspects we believe are needed in order to help keep everyone safe include requiring face coverings, allowing for physical distancing and managing access."

Besides the mask requirement at Vail's three Tahoe area resorts, distancing will be practiced throughout, from food service to lift lines and on chair lifts and gondolas, where guests will be spaced, unless they are from the same party or family.

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It's unclear yet how resorts like Heavenly will manage the crowds that usually ride the tram, which can carry up to 650 people per hour up the mountain.

Perhaps the biggest change, guests will be required to make a reservation at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. That is a specific arrival time with priority given to season pass holders.

At Walnut Creek's Sports Basement, staff is already stocking the rental department, getting ready with an eye toward all the possibilities--not limitations.

"Just being back in the mountains, fresh air," said Sports Basement's Jeremy Schlachter, "With all the fires going on, a chance to escape for a little bit and just sort of re-center."

At this point, Whitman told us, Heavenly and Northstar plan to open the weekend before Thanksgiving and Kirkwood the first weekend in December, if the the weather cooperates.

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