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New Mexico First State To Delay Resort Openings Due To COVID

Taos

Several New Mexico ski and snowboard resorts will delay openings, as the governor brought her state back to early-Covid restrictions this week by issuing a stay-at-home lockdown.

The lockdown, which closes down in-person services for "non-essential activities" until the end of November, includes winter sports and other organized recreation.

The temporary pullback affects Sipapu, planning to open Nov. 20; Red River, scheduled to start lifts on Nov. 25; and Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley, both of which were planning to drop the ropes on Thanksgiving (Nov. 26).

All have been furiously making snow in the last couple of weeks to supplement a late-October snowfall -- the first of the season.

The delay in opening in New Mexico is first of its nature for the U.S. for this upcoming season that will be greatly affected by the rate of infections by the Covid-19 virus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that the lockdown is temporary but will be reevaluated on Nov. 30 on a county-by-county basis in light of hospital capacities and the rate of the spread of the virus.

That further complicates ski and snowboard resort opening dates: "The real problem is around the possible extension of the order," said TSV's David Norden to Ski Area Management magazine. "We are looking forward to further simplifying our operation so we can deal with ongoing stop/start conditions. With potential closures, you also have changes in lodging occupancies, food-and-beverage occupancies, retail caps, and on and on."

In other Western states with winter resorts, Oregon has tightened up business capacities and social gatherings but exempted outdoor recreation, including ski resorts. However, Timberline Lodge has implemented a reservation system. Same, more or less, with Washington. Both state's resorts have gotten pasted with early-season snow. And California, home to several dozen resorts, is clamping down -- not on winter sports yet.

In Colorado, Winter Park pushed its opening date back so that more Front Range mountains will be open simultaneously to spread out crowds -- and promote distancing. Steamboat moved its opening to Dec. 2 but more for lack of snow.

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