Vail ski instructor Greg Kelley worked the last day the lift were open. “I know of two guests at the resort that tested positive with coronavirus. We found out later that they were infected and skiing around the mountain. I know of other people working in the local restaurants who tested positive.
As a private instructor, Greg receives a good portion of his income through cash tips. Although he will be paid for this week, he is uncertain about the future.
“I was booked all the way through March and now I don’t know what is going to happen.” The locker room where he keeps his ski gear is off-limits. When he heard of the lift closures he was already at home several miles away and did not go back to Vail to face the crowds.
School glorious school
Things are also uncertain for students and teachers in the Eagle County School District.
Karen Conley, a primary school teacher, is posting her lessons online. She will be using Google docs and also communicating with her students via a number of other online platforms.
“We’ve prepared packets for the students for two to three weeks. They are used to this as we give them weekly packets. It’s important for them to keep the same routines.” Karen’s daughter Rachel is a senior in the US school system, equivalent to her last year in secondary school.
Her daughter’s school had planned a senior trip to New York City which has no been canceled. Graduation ceremonies scheduled for 30 May are also in jeopardy
In addition, inter-school sports have been canceled for the remainder of the school year.
Stacey Birtwhistle too has a senior at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy. Her daughter, Emma, is taking classes online and does not know what the future holds.
“I’m hoping they have some sort of graduation ceremony for them,” she said.
Some local parents took to social media. “Dear Class of 2020,” one posted, “You were born during 9/11. You graduate during a pandemic. No doubt these events will shape you. You see beyond borders and political parties. You savor the good. You relish healthy lifestyle habits. The celebrations may need to wait and you are okay with that. We are proud of you.”
On the evening of 16 March Governor Jared Polis issued an additional executive order closing all Colorado ski resorts through the 22nd. On the evening of the 16th Polis ordered all restaurants, bars, movies and performance theaters, casinos, gyms, breweries and coffee houses to close from 17 March for at least 30 days.
The Lodge at Vail, an upscale hotel with an in-house restaurant, will only be serving room service meals. “We are on a day-to-day basis,” said an employee. “We don’t know what will happen in the future or even if we will be open tomorrow
Fly like an Eagle (not now)
American Airlines, which operates several flights a day from around the country into the Eagle/Vail airport has canceled service from the 18th to the 21st and possibly longer.
Passengers have received notification from the airlines which are helping with rebooking. “We understand it’s frustrating to wait, but if you’re not traveling in the next 72 hours, please wait until closer to your trip to call. You can cancel your flight online now and call when you're ready to rebook,” a statement on their website read. After an hour on hold my call was not answered.
The former lieutenant governor Jeff Kottkamp (second in command in the state) of Florida moaned on Twitter, “Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving in to Vail. Came all the way from Florida only to have our family’s vacation destroyed.”
Colorado Governor Polis responded, “Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality.
By Laura Bell