There are a few holdouts. How long they remain that way it the ultimate question.
As of late Sunday afternoon, most of New England’s ski industry had ceased operations under coronavirus protocol. There had been a number of defiant resorts lingering into Sunday — including Sunday River and Wachusett — but many ultimately caved to the pressure of social distancing.
Just like everything else developing this week, that may not last for long.
Indeed, if you managed to be among those who sought out some skiing over the weekend, it might be all you have for a while.
As of Friday, Berkshire East, Catamount, and Mount Abram were the only ski areas in New England to cease operations under coronavirus protocol. But that evening, Jay Peak president and general manager Steve Wright released a statement that said it was ceasing operations at Jay at the end of the day Saturday. The same went for Burke Mountain.
Then, things came unraveling on Saturday, when skiing’s biggest two conglomerates made the bold moves to close.
Vail Resorts was up first, announcing just after 6 p.m. that it was suspending operations from March 15-22 for all its 37 resorts, including Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Mount Sunapee, Crotched, Wildcat, and Attitash in the Northeast.
Alterra Mountain Company followed in Vail’s footsteps within hours, announcing that it was suspending operations at its 15 resorts, including Sugarbush and Stratton.
“I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this short notice will undoubtedly create,” Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming you back to the mountains as circumstances improve.”
The debate as to whether or not ski areas should have remained open, in the wake of social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19, was a popular topic on various social media channels throughout the day on Saturday. Vail had originally concocted a plan that would end hot food service and encouraged guests to ride lifts only with members of their party.
Fewer than 12 hours after announcing those guidelines, the season could be over.
“We know each decision we make has a broad impact far beyond our operations,” Vail CEO Rob Katz said in a statement. “This decision provides a pause for the entire ecosystem of our mountain resort communities. It gives everyone the time to assess the situation, respond to ever-changing developments, and evaluate the approach for the rest of season, if we believe it is advisable or feasible to re-open.”
Katz said the company would be providing updated information on the remainder of the season by Friday,
“We sincerely apologize to guests who are currently at our resorts – and those who were planning to come during this time.”
It was quite the shift in action from just Friday night, though more than a handful of observers saw this sort of mass closure coming.
Update: Per Ski Vermont, Smugglers’ Notch Resort will be ceasing operations Tuesday, March 17.