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Gov. Mills' administration releases COVID-19 prevention checklist for indoor activities at Maine ski areas

“We look forward to safely welcoming skiers to our many ski areas this winter," Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said.

MAINE, USA — Gov. Janet Mills' administration on Tuesday announced its COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for indoor activities at Maine’s ski areas. 

The checklist, written in close collaboration with Ski Maine and public health experts, outlines health and safety protocols that ski areas must comply with in order to safely allow indoor activities this winter.

General Guidance

  1. Require all staff, vendors, and guests to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not part of their household group/skiing party whenever possible.
    1. Strategies for encouraging physical distancing in indoor spaces include actively monitoring occupancy limits, reconfiguring spaces to allow for physical distancing (e.g., spacing out seats), establishing traffic patterns to minimize incidental contact, posting signage to remind staff and guests of physical distancing requirements, and encouraging guests to limit the amount of time they spend in indoor spaces.
  2. Require all staff, vendors, and guests to wear a face covering, per CDC recommendations and pertinent Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor.
    1. Face coverings worn in indoor spaces should be dry and unsoiled, have two or more layers, completely cover the nose and mouth, and fit snugly against the face. This will most likely necessitate using a separate mask from the one worn while skiing. Consider providing face coverings and/or asking guests to keep a dry face covering handy to put on before entering an indoor space.
    2. Gaiters/buffs are acceptable face coverings if they are double thickness or folded to make two or more layers of fabric.
  3. The number of individuals that can gather in an indoor space must not exceed the limit established by the Governor’s Executive Order.
    1. If a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the six-foot distancing requirement, occupancy must be limited to allow for such compliance.
    2. For lodge spaces that include multiple, distinct, enclosed indoor spaces (e.g. a separate retail space and restaurant) develop strategies to prevent crowding at any common entrances, exits, hallways, or restrooms. Establish distinct entrances and exits for different indoor spaces, if possible.

Guidance for Guests

  1. Inform guests of your COVID-19 policies and procedures in advance, if possible, via website, social media channels, etc.
  2. Confirm guests have reviewed the following questions posted at every point of sale when purchasing or accessing their daily lift ticket or trail pass, and prior to check-in for any longer-term/overnight stays at ski resort facilities. A version of these questions should be on the ski area’s website and be included in reservation confirmations. If guests answer yes to any of these questions, they should be asked to not put employees and other guests at risk and to come back another day.

      1. Do you have any of the following symptoms of COVID-19:
        • Fever (a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or are feeling feverish;
        • Respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath;
        • General body symptoms such as muscle aches, chills, and severe fatigue;
        • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; or
        • Changes in your sense of taste or smell?
      2. Have you been in close contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19 in the past 14 days? (Note: healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients while wearing appropriate personal protective equipment are not considered to have a close contact exposure and should answer “No” to this question).
      3. Have you traveled on non-essential travel in the past 14 days outside of Maine or a state exempted from testing and quarantine requirements (this includes any international travel or travel by cruise ship and any domestic travel, within the US, outside of an exempted state, regardless of the mode of transportation)?
  3. Place signage alerting guests to required occupancy limits, physical distancing requirements, face covering policies, and symptoms of COVID-19 at entrances and throughout the ski area, particularly in high traffic areas such as on in key walkways, in food and beverage locations, in shops, at checkout locations, and at exits.
  4. Consider encouraging guests to limit the amount of time they spend in indoor spaces.

RELATED: Gov. Mills: Face coverings must now be worn in public settings regardless of physical distance

Deliveries and Vendors

  1. Establish protocols for regular disinfection and handling of received material shipments and inventoried materials.
  2. Establish protocols for handling and processing shipping and receipts (including disinfection).
  3. Advise contractors, drivers, and vendors that they are required to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises.
  4. Notify vendors of any revised protocol as it relates to store entry, deliveries, paperwork, etc.
  5. Consider implementing measures to ensure vendor safety, including:
    1. Disabling/suspending access (e.g., suspending all non-employee delivery drivers from entering workplace).
    2. Transitioning to contactless signatures/e-signatures for deliveries.
    3. Where practical, adjusting store delivery times to spread out deliveries.
  6. Request that vendors direct their employees to follow all physical distancing guidelines and health directives issued by the applicable public authorities.

 Operations

  1. Consider moving services outdoors to the extent practicable (e.g., exterior ticketing windows, outdoor rental pick up, ski school).
  2. Consider installing non-porous physical barriers such as partitions or plexiglass barriers to protect guests and staff. Barriers should be placed at visitor information desks, service counters, and other similar locations where it is not possible to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance.
  3. Limit activities that require staff and/or guests to enter within 6 feet of another person, regardless of whether physical barriers are installed.
  4. Eliminate waiting rooms and lines to the greatest extent practicable. Where lines are unavoidable, ensure 6 feet of distance between individuals. This can be accomplished by demarcating 6-foot distances on floors or walls.
  5. Modify building traffic flow to minimize contact between staff, contractors, and guests; consider one-way entrances and exits, if possible. Use floor decals and/or signage to establish travel patterns.
  6. Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells. Consider limiting the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designating one directional stairwells, if possible.
  7. Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the indoor ski areas, including on entry, in key walkways, in food and beverage locations, in shops, at checkout locations, and at exits is encouraged.
  8. Use digital rather than paper formats to the greatest extent practicable.
  9. Remove all unnecessary items such as brochures, magazines, newspapers, and any other unnecessary paper products from common areas.
  10. Minimize shared touch surfaces such as pens, tablets, receipts, etc.
  11. Consider limiting access to patrol/first aid rooms only to patients (or for minor patients, a single guardian).
  12. Establish a distinct, separate “medical isolation space” for staff/guests who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
  13. Adequate ventilation is required, with establishments having flexibility in implementation such as using properly working ventilation systems or outdoor air exchange using fans in open windows and doors to exhaust air. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling) to individuals in the establishment. Additional information on readying ventilation systems is available from the U.S. CDC.
  14. For contact tracing purposes, to the extent practicable, establishments should maintain a record including contact information for guests and staff who have direct prolonged interaction.
    1. Based on current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Close contacts should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure.
  15. Drop-in childcare is not recommended at this time.

RELATED: US resorts adapt to new normal of skiing amid pandemic

Transactions

  1. Advance reservations and electronic purchase of lift tickets, trail passes, rentals and lessons are strongly recommended.
  2. Limit cash and paper receipt transactions; Promote “contactless” payment options (e.g., online payments, pay by phone options, RFID credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
  3. Where possible, card readers should be placed in front of physical barriers so guests can swipe their own cards and enter their codes.
  4. Card readers and keypads should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  5. Hand sanitizer should be made available for guests before and after transactions.
  6. Wash hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) after handling cash.

 Cleaning and Disinfection

  1. Refer to the following documents for guidance on general cleaning and disinfection:
    1. COVID-19 Prevention Checklist General Guidance (State of Maine)
    2. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (CDC)
    3. Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)

Restrooms and Locker Rooms

  1. Use of locker rooms should be limited to allow for adequate physical distancing and frequent cleaning.
  2. Consider asking guests to boot up at their cars and only bring with them items that they can carry throughout the day.
  3. Limit restroom occupancy for group restrooms to incorporate physical distancing and avoid formation of waiting lines outside of restrooms.
  4. Clean and disinfect restrooms on a regular and scheduled basis (see General Cleaning and Disinfecting section).
  5. Remove any items that do not have to be in the restrooms (e.g., magazines, decor).
  6. Post handwashing signs in all restrooms.

 Equipment Rentals

  1. Encourage reservations and pick-up time windows for rental equipment to manage guest congregation.
  2. Require masks and minimize physical contact when fittings are necessary.
  3. Hand sanitizer should be made available and used by guests and staff before and after each rental fitting.
  4. When possible, provide rental pickup outdoors or through a drive-up site.
  5. Consider sizing and disinfecting rentals and equipment (helmets, skis, poles) prior to arrival and storing them in a labeled rack for pick up.
  6. Clean and disinfect all rental equipment after each use.

 Transportation/Shuttle Service

  1. Operators and riders must wear face coverings on the bus/shuttle at all times.
  2. Because face coverings must be removed to eat or drink, do not eat or drink on the bus/shuttle.
  3. To provide for 6 feet of physical distance between travel parties, develop a plan to enforce maximum seated and standing capacity for each vehicle size and type.
  4. Instruct operators to monitor passenger loads and advise of load capacity to allow passenger spacing.
  5. Place signage in vehicles alerting riders to physical distancing requirements, occupancy limits, and face covering policies.
  6. Consider using covers, signs, or decals to prevent use of some seats in order to create space for physical distancing.
  7. Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and that systems have proper cabin air filters with HVAC systems set to maximize fresh air exchanges. Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows. Do not open windows if doing so poses a safety risk to operators or riders.
  8. Review the Transportation checklist for additional information about safe operation of buses, shuttles, and other vehicles.

Guidance for Ski Area Employees

  1. Employees should consider whether they can work safely if they have any of these conditions and managers should discuss potential risks for individuals with the following:
    1. People 65 or older
    2. People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
    3. People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled including:
      1. People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      2. People who have serious heart conditions
      3. People who are immunocompromised: Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
      4. People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
      5. People with diabetes
      6. People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
      7. People with liver disease
  2. Employees must stay at home if they are sick. Supervisors must ask employees to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using either of the following approaches:
    1. Use an electronic or app-based self-screening form, such as the Coronavirus Self-Checker available on the federal CDC’s COVID-19 homepage.
    2. Self-screen using the following questions:
      1. Do you feel ill or have you been caring for someone who is ill?
      2. In the past two weeks, have you been exposed to anyone who tested positive for COVID-19?
  3. Telework is an encouraged strategy to decrease the density of employees in the workplace, lower the risk of outbreaks, and allow for better utilization of space for those who cannot work remotely.
  4. Limit in-person gatherings or meetings of employees to the greatest extent practicable. Team meetings should be done remotely and if in person, with at least 6 feet of physical distancing between participants and use of masks/face coverings. Shorter meetings (<15 minutes) are encouraged over longer meetings.
  5. Remind employees to practice good hand hygiene with frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing especially between contact with guests and guest items.
  6. Where possible, stagger employee shifts and meal breaks to avoid crowding in common work areas.
  7. Ensure employees stay 6 feet apart whenever practical.
  8. Adjust seating in break rooms and other common areas to reflect physical distancing practices.
  9. Permit employees to take breaks outside, or in such other areas where physical distancing is attainable.
  10. Unnecessary gatherings or meetings of employees during working hours are strongly discouraged.
  11. Limit sharing of handheld equipment, phones, desks, workstations, and other tools and equipment between employees to the extent possible.
  12. Limit interaction between employees and outside visitors or delivery drivers; implement touchless receiving practices if possible.
  13. Adjust training and new employee orientation to limit number of people involved and allow for 6 foot spacing; use virtual/video/audio training when possible.
  14. Provide employee training on:
    1. hand hygiene
    2. physical distancing guidelines and expectations
    3. monitoring personal health
    4. proper wear, removal, disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    5. laundering of face coverings and uniforms: see CDC, Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry
    6. cleaning protocols, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies: see CDC, Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
  15. Consider employee training in safe de-escalation techniques.

“Skiing in Maine is a great opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors,” Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “We look forward to safely welcoming skiers to our many ski areas this winter.”

The checklist primarily addresses indoor operations at Maine ski areas. Meanwhile, the National Ski Areas Association has developed national guidance, known as "Ski Well - Be Well", to assist ski areas across the country in safely hosting outdoor activities.

“Ski areas and associations around the country have been working for many months developing plans on how we can operate ski areas in a manner which is as safe as possible for our employees, guests and their surrounding communities,” Dirk Gouwens, Executive Director of Ski Maine, said. “We have also worked collaboratively with members of Governor Mills’ administration and are looking forward to an exciting ski season that incorporates these guidelines. We know this season will look much different than any we have ever seen, but the same great ski and snowboard experience that Maine is famous for will remain the same.”

All COVID-19 Prevention Checklists can be viewed on the Department of Economic and Community Development’s website.