SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — With the uptick in COVID-19 cases and the future of high school sports uncertain, there’s one industry that’s gearing up to go big this winter as they wait for the snow to fly.

The leaves aren’t even off the trees, some even haven’t turned yet, but right now the ski operators are ready for the snow and COVID-19. They have been talking since June and July about how to make the ski areas safe during the winter.

The snow is coming just around the corner, but, as with everything COVID, things will be a little bit different.

There will be no changes as you ski or snowboard down the mountain, but there will be changes riding up…on the ski lift that is.

Jay Dougherty is the general manager at Mount Southington. He told News 8 Wednesday, “You are encouraged to ride with the people that you came with. Nobody is going to be forced to ride with anybody they don’t know, or who you might be uncomfortable riding with. So singles are certainly encouraged; you can ride by yourself.”

Which will work out, because all ski areas will be running at half capacity. They will require a cloth mask in line or inside the ski lifts. Or, they say, you can double up a scarf or neck gator.

There will still be ski schools with appropriate social distancing, and lift lines will be spread out at the bottom of the hill. 

Dougherty said, “We are making adjustments to our lift lines. We are putting 6-foot ‘dead lines’ between each lane to maintain side-to-side social distancing, and social distancing occurs naturally from tips to tails on skis.”

So skiing by nature is socially distant, but when you come into the warming hut, that’s when everybody gets closer together. Staff are trying to avoid that, so they’re switching it up. You’ll be seeing more outdoor dining with extra foods to lure you out.”

Dougherty added, “We have partnered with two different food trucks, The Taco Shack will be here and a pizza truck, and we are moving some concessions and our bar area out onto the patio.”

Ticket sales will be online. You go online buy your ticket, bring your receipt to the mountain, scan it at a kiosk, and you’ll get a lift ticket for your jacket, and away you go.