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Minneapolis St. Paul News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | Minneapolis, Minnesota | kare11.com

Outdoor activities continue in Minnesota, with restrictions

Buck Hill in Burnsville is one example of a place making adjustments due to COVID-19.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — The slopes have opened this month at resorts across Minnesota, including the popular Buck Hill in the suburban Twin Cities metro.

A lot of people are taking advantage during the pandemic.

Khalid, a young snowboarder, told KARE 11 that he usually hits the slopes about once a year. This winter, however, he said he can’t play basketball inside a gym due to COVID-19, so he plans to visit Buck Hill to fill the void.

“It’s the only thing we can possibly do outdoors right now, since everywhere is closed,” Khalid said. “Since it’s outdoors, the transmission is a lot less risky.”

To adapt to the increased demand for outdoor activities and keep customers safe through COVID-19 guidelines, Buck Hill has added a number of new policies for the 2020-21 season. 

Those include:

  • Online reservations to keep entry lines short
  • Standard six-foot social distancing practices
  • Take-out only at the restaurant, because the dining room is closed under the governor's four-week pause
  • Mask requirements in line, on the lift or indoors, and recommended while coming down the hill

“This, to me, seems like one of the safest places you can be,” Buck Hill CFO Nate Birr said, “with everything you have bundled up, and what you can do and how you can get outside.”

Birr said it appears most people have followed the rules since they opened earlier this month. The staff has added signage to visibly display the new policies, and they may add even more in the coming weeks. 

“It’s new for everybody here,” he said. “So, it’s just that repetition, to constantly remind people to be as safe as possible. And we’re doing the same here as staff.”

Two other ski areas in the Twin Cities metro area, Afton Alps and Hyland Hills, have both implemented similar safety policies, according to their websites. 

Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Minnesota health guidelines also allow sledding, snowmobiling and ice fishing – although the D-N-R says large contests might not be able to happen this winter.

At Buck Hill, racing teams can’t compete until the governor’s dial-back loosens, and ski lessons are on pause.

But outdoor enthusiasts can still work on their skills alone.

“It’s something that I want to get better at,” Khalid said. “Now that there’s a pandemic, and there’s not a lot of other options, I think I’m going to come here more often, for the rest of the year. And just kind of have fun out here.”