The ongoing pandemic is being felt very differently by the ski industry around Canada, with resorts on Ontario mandated to close as part of a province-wide lockdown, while resorts in British Columbia have been permitted to stay open.
There are major differences in the number of new and active cases in the two provinces, but ski resorts in BC have remained front-and-centre, with a local outbreaks identified (and mostly limited to staff accommodation) at Big White, Revelstoke and Sun Peaks.
Senior executive with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), Matt Mosteller, said that they were confident they and Fernie Alpine Resort were doing all they could to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) has deployed our Covid Safety Plan, an unprecedented effort of collaboration with Canada West Ski Area Association, which many in Industry say is the best Covid Safety Plan in North America,” he said.
“We are also constantly adapting, and our team of professionals is doing their part to make sure we deliver a safe skiing and riding experience. While most people are coming prepared, we continue to remind everyone that masks are required, frequent hand sanitization is a must and all must practice social distancing. Skiing and Riding is a low risk activity and important for everyone to ski and ride in their approved bubble. It is also very important for British Columbians to get outside in winter, skiing not only provides a physical health benefit, but also a very powerful mental benefit.”
Mosteller didn’t comment on the orders imposed on Ontarian resorts, but said that RCR was “in regular contact” with Interior Health.
“Our Covid Safety Plan has been reviewed and approved by both Regional and Provincial Health Authorities and we are active in making updates together to make sure that we continue to provides the best in safety practices to stop the spread of COVID 19.
“We are fortunate for insight and guidance from health professionals at Interior Health and health care professionals who live here and practice at Elk Valley Hospital. It truly is a team effort and we could not be more grateful for all the essential workers who are supporting our community.”
When news broke of a relatively large cluster (76 cases) at the Big White resort near Kelowna (owned by a different company to FAR), its management team announced that anyone not within 150km of the resort would have their passes pulled in a bid to prevent further spread of the disease.
Currently, there are no provincial travel bans, rather just a travel advisory discouraging non-essential travel. Mosteller did not say whether RCR and FAR would consider limiting visitors to the resort, only that “we encourage all guests to follow all public health authority guidelines including the current provincial travel advisory that is in place until January 8, 2021.”
There have been no reported cases linked to Fernie Alpine Resort, but last week Alberta Health declared an outbreak of 15 cases linked to another RCR resort, Nakiska, to the west of Calgary. The cases were limited to staff accommodation.
Mosteller said that anyone considering skiing or snowboarding at any RCR resort – including FAR – needed to know before they go “so that everyone comes prepared with a mask, sanitizer and aware of social distancing parameters that we have in place. It is important to be calm, be kind and to be respectful. We are all truly in this together and we all have to do our part.
“It is up to us all to do our part so that we can all enjoy a full skiing and riding season.”
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