UPDATE: Okanagan ski resorts look at COVID-19 related closures | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Okanagan ski resorts look at COVID-19 related closures

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Big White Ski Resort

COVID-19 concerns have prompted at least one Okanagan ski resort to close.

SilverStar Mountain Resort will be closed from March 15 to 22.

"Our top priority—the health and safety of our staff, guests and local community—remains at the forefront for us and, with this in mind, we are suspending all resort operations from March 15-22. We will continue to monitor the dynamic COVID-19 situation and reassess our approach for the rest of the season during this timeframe," reads an announcement on the Silver Star site.

"The suspension includes all lift operations, food and beverage, tube town, brewers pond, nordic operations and retail and rental services. Our lodging and property management facilities will remain open to service guests we have on site or those with existing reservations, but we will not be taking new reservations for the remainder of March."

Given the extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19, SilverStar has modified its cancellation policies and our SilverStar Mountain Resort customer services team will be in contact with guests to cancel or modify reservations. Staff anticipate heavy call volume over the next several days.

Michael Ballingall, senior vice president with Big White Ski Resort, said the resort will stay open until the season’s end on April 19 unless government officials tell them to close.

The resort is taking extra precautions, such as spacing out restaurant seats and not promoting group travel.

Ballingall said Blackcomb, like SilverStar, is owned by an American company, which may have contributed to the decision for it to close since America has entered a state of emergency.

Vail Resorts, which operates Whistler Blackcomb, said it will suspend operations at its 37 mountain resorts in the U.S., Canada and Australia, CEO Rob Katz said in a statement posted to the company website Saturday, March 14.

"This has no doubt been an incredibly challenging time," Katz said in the release.

"With 37 resorts spread across 15 states and three countries, we – like the rest of the world – have been closely tracking every new development related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and have been in constant contact with local health officials for guidance. Without question, our top priority has been the health and wellbeing of our guests and employees – and to no lesser extent the health and wellbeing of the communities where we operate. We know each decision we make has a broad impact far beyond our operations."

The hiatus will allow the company to reassess its approach for the rest of the season.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort has posted on its website that it will remain open at this time.

"Precautions definitely need to be taken and adjustments need to be made, but Sun Peaks Resort will continue to operate unless we receive new information from the relevant authorities with whom we are in regular contact," according to a statement posted on its website.

The resort is recommending that international guests should change their travel plans and that elderly guests who have health issues should refrain from visiting the resort. Single lines on chairlifts have also been eliminated and the resort is reducing the number of seats available at restaurants. 

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