Quebec ski resorts allowed to reopen with new COVID-19 public health restrictions

Ski hill operators are eager to get back to work and alpine enthusiasts are chomping at the bit after their season was cut short in March by the pandemic.

Ski hills in red zones will not be able to rent equipment, open dining areas or offer ski lessons

With a laundry list of public health restrictions in place, ski resorts in Quebec will be able to open. (Ben Nelms/Radio-Canada)

Charles Désourdy, president of Bromont ski resort, was breathing a sigh of relief Friday afternoon after the Quebec government finally confirmed skiers and snowboarders will be allowed to hit the slopes this season. 

"I'd say it's a relief," he said. "For my part, it takes big pressure off to know we can open the business this winter."

Ski hill operators are eager to get back to work and alpine enthusiasts are chomping at the bit after their season was cut short in March by the pandemic.

Bromont is in one of Quebec's orange zones, and the COVID-19 health restrictions will be pretty standard there, once the hills reopen. 

Those measures include handwashing, keeping a two-metre distance and wearing a face covering — be it a mask indoors or a balaclava or scarf outdoors — at all times. 

There are some limitations on who can ride lifts together in green, yellow and orange zones, but the rules aren't nearly as strict as in the province's red zones, where resorts will not be allowed to rent equipment, offer classes or open their dining areas.

Also in red zones, only families living in the same house will be able to ride lifts together and gondolas will have limited capacity — only two people outside of family bubbles are allowed to ride along.

Financial hit expected with restrictions

Quebec's association of ski resorts said in a Friday statement that the new measures will weigh on resorts in red zones, as a substantial portion of their revenue comes from rentals and ski lessons.

However, the association commends Quebec public health for clarifying the new rules designed to keep staff and customers safe.

The association says it is important that all customers respect those rules to ensure the industry stays operational in a time when the Quebec government has again restricted the operation of businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms in red zones.

In a statement, Minister of Tourism Caroline Proulx says she is confident Quebecers will be able to follow the rules.

"Winter is magic in Quebec and I hope that every Quebecer can take full advantage of it, while continuing to protect themselves and protect others," she says.