As of 1 p.m. Friday, March 13, test results show that two Maine residents have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
With about a month of downhill skiing and snowboarding season left in Maine, ski areas throughout the state are taking measures to keep recreators safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Major events at resorts are being canceled, and ski lodges are finding ways to reduce crowds and the spread of germs.
Sugarloaf, Maine’s largest ski resort, canceled all upcoming late-night musical performances at the resort’s Widowmaker lounge on March 13, for at least the next two weeks. Among the events canceled is the Chords for a Cure performance by the Stone Doctors.
Ski operations and lessons at Sugarloaf remain open, but the resort is taking measures to keep the lodge especially clean and reduce large gatherings.
“We’re doing a few things,” Sugarloaf Communications Manager Ethan Austin said. “The first one, which we’ve been doing for a while now, is just increasing our attention to frequently cleaning areas and encouraging people to use proper hygiene and wash their hands.”
The resort has also moved some of the tables out of the base lodge’s King Pine Room and cafeteria, two major gathering areas, to reduce the number of people using the rooms at any one time.
“We’re just looking at every opportunity we can, whenever there’s something that would create a large group of people indoors, looking at ways we can move that to an outdoor area or postpone it,” Austin said.
The Sugarloaf Banked Slalom, planned for March 21-22, will still take place as scheduled, with some likely modifications to limit indoor gatherings such as registration and awards. And a decision is yet to be made about the resort’s popular Reggae Fest, a spring ski party scheduled for April 9-12, which draws between 8,000 to 10,000 people to the mountain.
“We’re still meeting and discussing internally on what steps we can and should take in regards to Reggae Fest,” Austin said.
Sugarloaf isn’t the only ski area that frequently combines skiing with live music. The Mallet Brother Band were scheduled to perform at Big Squaw Mountain ski area in Greenville on March 13, and on the day of the concert, the band announced their decision to postpone the event due to concerns about the virus.
“After long thought, careful consideration and lengthy discussions with some trusted friends in the medical profession, we’ve made the tough decision to postpone this weekend’s shows,” the band posted on their Facebook page. “… this is not an easy call, but the idea that our instinct to carry on with business as usual could lead directly or indirectly to any unnecessary harm would be too much to handle.”
Black Mountain of Maine ski area in Rumford is also making changes in response to the coronavirus. In addition to reinforcing proper handwashing and continuing to use disinfectants in common areas, the mountain is temporarily restricting access to the in-house water fountain and changing the use of disposable cups from multi-use to one-time use only.
Sunday River ski resort in Newry is also remaining open for skiing but is canceling major events, including the Maine Brew Fest scheduled for March 28. The event, which would have taken place in the resort’s South Ridge Lodge, typically brings in 30 breweries and between 500 to 800 attendees.
“We want to make sure we’re putting our guests and team members first when making these decisions,” Sunday River Director of Communications Karolyn Castaldo said.