Mt. Baldy Mountain Resort announced it is opening back up to skiers and snowboarders Wednesday despite California officials urging people not to ease social distancing practices too early.
The resort, which is located about 15 miles north of Upland in the San Gabriel Mountains, said on its website that it is taking its cue from some of the region’s golf courses.
“With coverage on the mountain about as good as it gets for April and golf courses reopening around Southern California we have decided to follow suit and open for ‘Ski & Ride Times’ beginning tomorrow morning,” the resort posted Tuesday.
In stark contrast to a golf course (150 acres), Mt Baldy Resort (800 acres) has more than 4x the area and says it will be operating at less than 10% of occupancy under its reopening plan.
Lift ticket reservations for the rest of April and most of May are available to book on its website.
Face masks will be required in accordance with San Bernardino County’s health orders, according to the resort’s “social distancing operations plan.” The resort is on the border of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, on Mount Baldy aka Mount San Antonio, the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The resort said its rental shop would remain closed and guests would have to bring their own gear. Also, no walk-up tickets would be sold.
Mt. Baldy’s customer service voicemail still had a recording Wednesday morning that stated the resort was temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but directed callers to its website.
The ski resort is the first in the country to reopen, according to ski news website Unofficial Networks, which reported Mt. Baldy had been closed since March 20. The small resort has about two dozen runs and four lifts.
It’s not immediately clear what the overall reception to the move is in the small mountain community of Mount Baldy. One local emailed KTLA to say residents are “livid and afraid.”
By late afternoon Wednesday, at least one skier had posted publicly posted video from the mountain, saying social distancing guidelines were being followed.
The decision to reopen comes amid the growing struggle between some business owners who are anxious to reopen and state leaders calling for ongoing stay at home regulations.
“The worst mistake we could make is making a precipitous decision based on politics and frustration that puts people’s lives at risk, and ultimately sets back the cause of economic growth and economic recovery,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.
Newsom sited Ventura County’s plan Tuesday, saying he had approved after negotiations with the county, but also signaled other restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’ spread would not be relaxed before the state itself does so.
“There is a cap in terms of the loosening at the local level,” Newsom said. “The cap is an expectation that they do not go beyond those state orders.”
Newsom is planning to hold a news conference on Wednesday to further discuss the state’s path for reopening the economy.