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With fears of the coronavirus spreading throughout Oregon, it seems hitting the slopes may be the perfect way to stave off infection by getting outside and staying somewhat far away from others.

Central Oregon ski resorts are doing what they can to promote that, as well as to ensure their lodges are safe and clean for their skiers and snowboarders.

Mt. Bachelor ski resort has canceled all events through the end of March, but it remains open every day for skiing and snowboarding. Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters canceled its Preview the New demo day this Saturday, but it remains open Thursdays through Mondays, per its regular operations, for skiing and riding.

“We are committed to doing what we can to maintain our operations in ways that responsibly take into consideration the needs of our staff and guests,” says Leigh Capozzi, communications manager for Mt. Bachelor. “We are doing so because it is our foundational belief that it is beneficial for the soul to live and enjoy the adventure lifestyle — and this is particularly the case in times like this, when anxiety and stress are high.”

Capozzi added that Mt. Bachelor has been taking measures the last few weeks to limit potential exposure and risk, and to enable social distancing. The lodge services team, Capozzi says, has been doing deep cleaning on touchable surfaces throughout the day in all lodges and staff buildings. Bachelor food and beverage has eliminated self-service and buffet service and is positioning sanitizing stations within food courts and entrances to restaurants.

It is still unknown how much the coronavirus concern will affect business at Bachelor.

“With spring break ahead of us we had expected to have higher numbers on resort midweek,” Capozzi says. “With the fluid and changing news we understand and respect all guests’ individual choices, whether they come up and spend their days on snow, or make other plans. Mt. Bachelor is fully open and operational and I can personally say taking a few runs and soaking up the fresh air and mountains feels great.”

Matthew McFarland, general manager of Hoodoo, says that much of what companies of all kinds have been advised to do during the pandemic are things Hoodoo employees were already doing anyway.

“Every day I have a fleet of people who do nothing but wash and sanitize the building; doorknobs, handles, tables, everything,” McFarland says. “It’s hard to say that that’s really a change, because that’s what we’ve already been doing. At a ski area, it’s cold, it’s winter, and people come up with lots of colds and flu anyway, so we’ve already had to be diligent. It’s something we already pay attention to. We go through a lot of sanitizer to keep clean.”

While it is easy for skiers and snowboarders to maintain distance from each other on the slopes, the chairlifts are a different story.

McFarland says if snowriders want to load as doubles on a quad chair at Hoodoo, that is no problem.

“We’re not going to argue with them, that’s fine,” McFarland says. “We’re easy.”

He adds that skiing and snowboarding offer ideal opportunities to recreate outside while staying away from others to help avoid the spread of the virus.

“You’ve got a mask; you’ve got gloves; you’ve got everything going for ya,” McFarland says. “There’s no reason not to do it. And some of the best skiing of the year is this time of year.”

Indeed, Bachelor is expected to receive 10 to 18 inches of snow Friday night through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, and Hoodoo is expected to receive about the same.

“We haven’t really seen any decline yet,” McFarland says of visits to Hoodoo.

“We’re hoping for more business with schools being closed and skiing being the perfect activity to stay away from people.”

Reporter: 541-383-0318, mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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