How Does Everyone Stay Safe In Close Quarters?
In the Internet era, we keep hearing about the 'new sharing economy' with tech companies like AirBnB, Uber, Zipcar all capitalizing on otherwise under-used assets like spare bedrooms and cars. But in the ski community we've been ahead of the curve for years with ski clubs maximizing occupancy of ski houses, families sharing use of second homes, and even college buddies teaming up to buy a ski house together. The sharing economy is not a new concept to skiers and snowboarders who were the original couch surfers!
Despite all this experience in sharing places to stay near the mountains, the pandemic adds a new dimension. Ski resorts, hotels and inns are fretting over plans for opening, but what does it mean for all the private sharers? Do we pile in together as usual or stay in smaller 'pods' to limit exposure even though that might mean fewer ski days and less social interaction?
Health experts are still learning about the Novel Coronavirus and how it is transmitted but for now it seems safe to say that you don't want to be inside sharing air with people who may be spreading the virus. It's much, much safer to be outside and at least six feet apart. The data also shows that older people and people with pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer a severe case of COVID-19 if they are infected so our 50+ demographic has to be extra careful.
With that in mind it may be worth doing some additional thinking about your accommodation plans before the snow flies. If you are sharing a house with others, are they all already in your 'pod' or are you potentially exposing yourself to a new group—and all the people they may have interacted with in recent weeks?
Some houses have separate apartments or cabins which would be ideal for spreading groups out while still allowing for outside social time while skiing, snowboarding, or trying other winter sports, and of course for après.
Ski clubs may want to consider spacing people out, reducing use of communal gathering spaces or even following the school model and splitting members up into smaller cohorts with each cohort going at a different time. Maybe even sorting by age and giving older members the option to visit at child-free times?
One option to help with organization, minimize risk, and avoid confusion in shared spaces is Google Calendar. Another, specifically targeted at ski clubs and private houses is Resercal.com (disclosure: the author of this article created this product). There are many other online booking systems that can help you organize your season depending on what you need. Many are aimed solely at hotel/inn managers or for rentals-only so look carefully for the features that best fit your situation.
Consider leaving a buffer in the schedule between uses for cleaning. That should reduce the chance of virus being transmitted by air or on surfaces.
You might also want to think about making your shared ski house work-from-home compatible. With many people working remotely, it may be possible to spread family, friend, or club member use over more dates than in past seasons. For example a family with kids could visit for a whole week, remote-working, and 'distance-learning' from the ski house, instead of just staying on weekends. Spread out over the season, a few longer visits in smaller pods might add up to a similar number of ski days for all involved.
What are your thoughts and plans? How are you or your group preparing for this unusual season?