At Bluebird Backcountry, we hope our guests have fun (and maybe even learn something), but safety is our top priority. That’s true whether we’re talking about avalanches, weather conditions, or other risks associated with traveling in the mountains.
It’s also true — and we never thought we’d have occasion to say this — about operating during a pandemic. That’s why we spent the lead-up to the 2020/21 ski season developing a comprehensive COVID-19 Plan. Our plan has been approved by Jackson County, where Bear Mountain is located, and by the State of Colorado. To keep our guests and staff healthy, we:
- Communicate with guests before they arrive at Bluebird
- Strictly enforce measures like physical distancing and mask wearing for all guests and staff
- Frequently and carefully sanitize common areas
- Have a response plan in place in case of a positive test result or exposure
- Make sure our guests never, ever have to wait in a lift line
Here’s what you need to know about Bluebird Backcountry’s efforts to keep our guests and staff safe during these uncertain times.
Communicating Early and Often
Bluebird believes in developing good backcountry habits, like clear communication, early on. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make sure guests are aware of our COVID-19 policies before they arrive on site. (Check out what a day at Bluebird looks like.)
Our efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission begin before guests show up at Bear Mountain. This means having guests sign waivers online to minimize in-person contact, limiting the number of people on our 1,200 acres of terrain to 200 or fewer, and minimizing the number of people signed up for lessons to a number smaller than the CDC-recommended max.
We’re keeping careful records of everyone who shows up at Bluebird. We require all guests to have a day pass or season pass, and our new scanning system ensures we know who visited and when. This means that in the event of a positive test result, we’re able to quickly notify everyone who we know was in close contact.
Like many ski areas, much of our staff resides in communal housing during the season. Bluebird staff are assigned to “pods,” meaning they primarily interact with members of their own households. (Don’t worry; our team is awesome and gets along just fine.)
On the Mountain
Bluebird takes COVID spread prevention seriously at the mountain. We’ve moved as much of the day outside as possible to minimize person-to-person contact. On the rare occasion that folks do need to be in the lodge, face coverings are strictly required, and markers on the ground help guests maintain at least 6 feet from one another. Masks are also required when passing on the skin track and any other time physical distancing of 6+ feet can’t be maintained. Oh, and have we mentioned that no lifts = no lift lines?
Our on-mountain staff has also been trained to understand as much as possible about COVID transmission, symptoms, and the requirements for sanitizing, distancing, and personal protection. Bluebird staff knows management will have their backs when it comes to enforcing those rules, too — that’s why we’re not shy about making sure everyone on site is wearing face coverings properly.
In the event of a confirmed case of COVID at Bluebird, our contact tracing procedures mean we’re prepared to notify all staff and guests who we know were in close contact and may have been exposed. When staff may have been exposed, we provide testing resources and stay isolated until negative results come back.
The bottom line: We care more about health and safety than making a buck. If a situation dictates that it’s best for our staff and guests to close down, we’re prepared to do so until guidelines signal resume operations again. In that case, we’ll work to notify guests as quickly as possible. (For more on our refund policy, check out our COVID page.)
We’re continuing to refine our COVID plan as we get more information about the virus to better protect you, our staff, and the season. As a result, we’ll be implementing some changes in January 2021 and beyond, including (but not limited to):
- Moving all staff meetings outdoors
- Implementing a testing program for staff
- Improving ventilation
- Developing redundant staff pods within each team
- Cross-training staff on other team duties
- Building additional safety barriers between staff and guests at check-in and in the rental shop
- Activating a limited operations plan to remain open should any essential staff members get COVID in the future