ORO-MEDONTE, ONT. -- The ground is snow-covered, and typically at this time of year, winter enthusiasts are thinking about the slopes.

But with all the COVID restrictions, the concern remains, will the ski resorts be able to entice people out of lockdown?

Hardwood Ski and Bike president Gareth Houben says with a fresh 25 centimetres of snowfall blanketing the area over the past two days, resort staff are preparing to open.

"We are just doing our due diligence. Making sure all the trails are safe before we get to rolling, packing and grooming and letting people on the trails so they can enjoy some healthy outdoor activities," he says.

While activities like skiing, hiking and snowboarding offer plenty of open, outdoor space and exercise, the province's COVID-19 response framework urges residents in grey or lockdown zones to remain in their homes unless it's essential.

Simcoe Muskoka health unit's medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Gardner, urged out-of-towners not to head up Highway 400.

"Most of the GTA is in red, and Peel and Toronto are in lockdowns. I'm advising strongly that people from those areas only come here for essential purposes," Gardner said last week.

Still, the lure of the great outdoors hasn't stopped some from pursuing their favourite activities to get some relief from COVID's long shadow.

"We are still welcoming people from red zones at Hardwood Ski and Bike, and unless forced to change that, we will continue," says Houben.

The retail operations at Hardwood are now open. Trails are expected to open in the coming weeks, but no specific date has been set.