New Zealand announce “no limit” to daily skier numbers in 2020

The Remarkables. Photo credit: NZ Ski

New Zealand’s ski resorts have collectively gained the official go ahead for the 2020 season and today have revealed a little more of how that will look when the lifts start turning.

While industry speculation has been a numbers cap on how many skiers and snowboarders can be on the mountain, the resorts announced today in an industry press statement that “the large areas over which ski areas operate mean that there is no cap on the total number of people allowed on the ski area, provided physical distancing can be managed.”

Given that resorts expect to run at around 50% of usual skier numbers due to closed borders and a financially stressed domestic market, social distancing management shouldn’t be a problem. 

Lift lines will also be managed according to physical distancing requirements – that’s 1 metre where contact tracing is in place through RFID systems.

In Alert Level 2 hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person and the limit is a maximum of 100 people at a time. Resorts expect this to also be the case for them as the season open. 

Should the country move to Alert Level 1 during the ski season then there is no restriction on gathering numbers. 

NZSki CEO Paul Anderson, Cardrona Alpine Resorts General Manager Bridget Legnavsky and Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd CEO Jono Dean have been working with government, on behalf of the industry, to clarify how ski resorts will operate under level 2 requirements this year.

“Now we are in level 2 and we’ve developed these guidelines we can start sharing our plans for the season and work towards opening” said Dean of the new clarity over Level 2 restrictions and winter plans. 

Cardrona Alpine Resorts General Manager Bridget Legnavsky says it’s been a comprehensive process but one that has brought ski areas closer together in an unprecedented time.

“It’s been challenging to navigate a new environment, but we all have one goal this year and that’s to open safely for our guests” said Legnavsky.

“We have been working hard to demonstrate to government that we can implement safe procedures across our ski areas at alert level 2.”

Further guidelines for this season require resorts to manage physical distancing, ensure contract tracing is in place and to increase cleaning and sanitation requirements. 

“We’re committed to being a responsible industry and working together on developing operating protocols for ski areas is proof of that,” said Anderson of an aligned industry approach.

“It’s fantastic to now be able to plan our seasons with confidence and support our staff to operate under the new guidelines.  We’re looking forward to bringing people safely back to the mountains so will be ready for opening in about a month!”

NZ ski announced their plans yesterday for which resorts they will open, how and when.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.