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Mammoth and Tahoe ski resorts reopen lodgings after rollback of state’s COVID order

Mammoth Mountain got a fresh dump of snow over the weekend.
(Peter Morning / MMSA)

Mammoth and Lake Tahoe area ski resorts and mountain towns are reopening hotels and lodges to leisure visitors after California’s governor on Monday lifted statewide regional orders that had closed lodging to most travelers. The rollback coincides with fresh snow and good skiing and boarding conditions at Sierra resorts.

Mammoth Mountain and the Tahoe area had closed accommodations in early December after Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed regional stay-at-home orders that limited guests to essential travelers. Now that has changed as COVID-19 rules return to county oversight.

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“Mammoth Mountain continues to operate for skiing and riding, and lodging and short-term rentals are now available with restrictions,” the resort’s website said Monday. The announcement also says Mono County still follows purple tier restrictions, which indicate a widespread COVID-19 risk. The state’s color-coded COVID risk system is outlined in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

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Mammoth’s seasonal snowfall so far is 66 inches, with a base depth of 26 to 38 inches on the mountain.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows in Placer County reopened lodges to leisure travelers Jan. 13 after an earlier regional order rollback in the Sacramento area. “At this time, there are no changes to existing reservations for lift tickets, ski school, rental/demo, etc.,” the resort’s website said Monday. Ski resorts remain under COVID rules, such as requiring visitors to purchase lift tickets in advance, wear a mask and observe social distancing. Squaw Valley reported base depths of 26 to 35 inches.

Though some hotels and lodgings statewide have been allowed to open to leisure travelers, health authorities say that doesn’t mean it’s wise to travel right now. Such trips counter the advice of local and state officials, who continue to advise people to stay within 120 miles of their home to stop the spread of COVID-19, particularly with new, more virulent strains of the virus appearing in California.

What does that mean for accommodations in the rest of the state? That will be decided on a county-by-county basis. Newsom’s move to scale back statewide COVID restrictions means that at least some counties are free to adjust their limits, allowing overnight vacation stays in some destinations.

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In the Palm Springs area, which is part of Riverside County, officials were scrambling Monday to understand what the governor’s move meant for leisure lodgings. “We’re trying to get that clarified,” said Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau communications director Joyce Kiehl on Monday.

She added: “Some of our restaurants, I know, have already posted that they‘ll be open Thursday” for patio dining, Kiehl said.

“The issue remains twofold,” California Hotel & Lodging Assn. spokesman Pete Hillan said. “What will each county do, and what is the decision at the convention or event center. That’s the next layer.” Hillan was referring to allowing small meetings that typically occur in hotel spaces.

But back to ski resorts, which face another hurdle from Lake Tahoe to Southern California, courtesy of Mother Nature: tough road conditions. In the Mammoth Lakes area, a storm closed many roads and made life difficult for drivers.

Mammoth Mountain spokesman Tim LeRoy said: “Road conditions will be a very real factor this week in travel to both Big Bear and Mammoth. Folks should really pay attention to the latest conditions and updates from Caltrans and make sure they’re prepared. It’s going to be gnarly.”


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