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Mount Snow closes in response to coronavirus

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WEST DOVER — Mount Snow will be closed from Sunday until at least March 22, according to a news release from its parent company Vail Resorts Inc.

"This has no doubt been an incredibly challenging time," Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, said in the release issued Saturday. "With 37 resorts spread across 15 states and three countries, we — like the rest of the world — have been closely tracking every new development related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and have been in constant contact with local health officials for guidance. Without question, our top priority has been the health and wellbeing of our guests and employees — and to no lesser extent the health and wellbeing of the communities where we operate. We know each decision we make has a broad impact far beyond our operations."

Katz said the decision to suspend operations at all of the company's North American resorts and retail stores was made with stakeholders in mind and the most updated information from local health officials. That time, he said, will be used "to reassess our approach for the rest of the season."

All scheduled seasonal and year-round will be paid during the eight-day closure without needing to use vacation or sick time, according to the release.

"Their commitment to our company and guests during this uncertain time has been unwavering and I am personally grateful beyond words," Katz said.

Lodging and property management operations will remain open for guests on location or those with existing reservations, according to the release. But no new reservations will be taken for the upcoming week.

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"We will be closing our corporate offices and apart from essential personnel, we will be asking other employees to work from home, where possible," Katz said. "This decision provides a pause for the entire ecosystem of our mountain resort communities. It gives everyone the time to assess the situation, respond to ever-changing developments, and evaluate the approach for the rest of season, if we believe it is advisable or feasible to re-open."

Katz said the decision had not been an easy one to make.

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On Friday, Vail Resorts announced that its properties would remain open and take precautions. Lodges were to be regularly disinfected, food services would be limited and social distancing would be encouraged.

But on Saturday, the company reversed course "as we deeply considered the impact it will have on our guests, employees, and the people and businesses in our communities," according to the release. Katz noted the change may be confusing given the prior communications.

"Please know that this has been a fast-moving, constantly developing situation with new information from our communities coming to us by the day, if not by the hour, and we are trying to react as quickly as we can," he said. "People may also wonder why we are not giving more notice ahead of this closure. We understand the challenges this creates, but our priority is to minimize any additional issues from operating in further uncertainty and to avoid potential crowding."

Katz said the company sincerely apologizes to guests at its resorts and those who were planning to come. Information on the remainder of the season will be provided Friday.

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Websites will have information on cancellations, refunds and travel credits. Season passes and Epic Day Passes are non-refundable and not transferable to another season but the company said it will be reviewing those policies and will provide updated guidance in the coming weeks.

"These are unprecedented, challenging times for everyone," Katz added. "We will continue to navigate these unchartered waters with our guests, our employees and our communities remaining our highest priority. I am certain that there have been, and will be, moments where we will miss the mark and potentially disappoint. However, rest assured that we will continue to listen to your feedback — and continue to make the best decisions we can for everyone's wellbeing."

Other Vermont mountains that will be closed for skiing include Jay Peak, Burke Mountain and Middlebury Snowbowl.

This story will be updated.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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