S. Korean ski resorts reopen with strict COVID-19 prevention measures
Updated: 2021-01-16 09:09:11 KST
While many indoor sports facilities here in South Korea are closed, some outdoor facilities, including ski resorts, were allowed to re-open under strict disease-prevention measures.
Our Choi Won-jong files this report from Pyeongchang.
Skiers and snowboarders wait all year for snow like this but the pandemic has left these winter hotspots empty.
In December, the nation's health authorities moved to shut down ski slopes to curb the spread of COVID-19.
However, starting last Monday, the government allowed them to partially reopen.
According to the Ski Resort Business Association of Korea, more than 3.7 million people visited during the last ski season, but less than 400-thousand are expected to come this year a nearly 90-percent drop.
"This place is usually packed in winter, with more than 8-thousand people a day last year. But with a 80 percent drop in visitors during the pandemic, that's not the case this ski season."
Due to recent cluster infections at ski resorts nationwide, this place has ramped up its prevention measures.
At the entrance, all visitors must check in by dialing a phone number.
"You have successfully checked in."
Then they are required to get their temperature checked.
Inside the buildings, all restaurants are closed meaning there's no indoor eating and drinking with friends and family.
For renting out ski clothing and equipment, all fitting rooms are disinfected with a spray before and after each customer uses the rooms.
The ski rental area usually the most crowded indoor space is also sprayed with disinfection frequently.
Social distancing restrictions are in place outside when boarding either a ski lift or a cable car.
Only 3 of 6 seats are open on ski lifts and only 4 people are allowed in each cable car.
And of course, wearing a mask is a must, even if you are wearing a scarf or neck warmer.
However, some visitors say this is difficult to get used to.
"I feel a little bit hot, but I don't want to get coronavirus so I wear a mask."
"It's very uncomfortable wearing it, especially in the somewhat warm weather today, it's already getting damp inside the mask."
The operating hours are now shortened so the slopes close at 9 PM, with night skiing no longer an option.
Choi Won-jong, Arirang News, Pyeongchang.