On Tuesday, March 30, Whistler Blackcomb (the largest ski resort in North America) closed for the entire season eight weeks in advance. The decision was made after the government of British Columbia ordered the closure of the resort until April 19 to quell the spread of COVID-19. Originally, Whistler Mountain was scheduled to close on April 18, and Blackcomb Peak was originally scheduled to open until May 24. Neither season will reopen.
In a press conference on March 29, Provincial Health Minister Dr. Bonnie Henry mentioned the surge in cases in the Whistler community and the need to curb travel-related transmission. New COVID-19 cases in the Hornsand area where Whistler is located rose from 32 in the first week of March to 247 in the last week of this month. The worrying Brazilian P.1
P.1 is more contagious and can cause more severe symptoms. According to the BC Center for Disease Control, P.1 may be able to reinfect people who are already infected with the virus. It may also be less responsive to current treatments and vaccines than the milder strains of coronavirus. The new variant cases found in other parts of Canada have been linked to travellers spending time in the Whistler area. Since then, the surge has triggered other restrictions, including a three-week ban on indoor dining and drinking, indoor group fitness classes, and indoor worship services.
Whistler Blackcomb was the only ski resort that was ordered to close, but its decision to end the season immediately caused a domino effect. The next day, Revelstoke Mountain Resort posted on Instagram that due to COVID-19, operations will be suspended for the rest of the season. Dabai Ski Resort also announced that its season will end early on April 5th instead of April 11. At the same time, on Wednesday, the province reported 1013 new cases of the virus, which is the highest total in a single day in history.
This situation was replayed in March last year, when ski resort towns such as Sun Valley in Idaho became early hot spots for COVID-19. On March 10, 2020, after the World Health Organization officially announced a pandemic, ski resorts everywhere began to close early. Whistler Blackcomb’s parent company, Vail Resorts, closed all its properties in North America prematurely on March 15.
The 2020-21 season should have been different, with strict policies on social isolation and sanitation facilities, and limiting the number of people who can participate in group ski lessons. Whistler Blackcomb is one of many large resorts (including Aspen Snowmass and Breckenridge in Colorado and Park City in Utah), which has implemented a retention system to manage mountain capacity. Skiers in Whistler Blackcomb must purchase lift tickets online in advance. Even season pass holders must book ski days in advance. Face masks are mandatory, regardless of the individual’s vaccination status or the regulations at home.
The changes made appear to be working.In some cases, ski resorts have even been praised as Is not Help increase COVID-19. For example, in January, public health officials from eight tourism-dependent communities in the Colorado Highlands confirmed that they did not link the outbreak to ski areas.
In a statement issued after business hours, Geoff Buchheister, vice president and chief operating officer of Whistler BlackComb, said: “Although the provincial health law has surprised us, we fully support the government. Instructed, we are doing our part to do this.” Tuesday. “At the moment, we believe that the best way to support orders is to start reducing winter operations. Now, we will concentrate all our attention on preparing our resorts to open safely in the summer.” Summer activities include downhill mountain biking and hiking And skiing on the Horstmann Glacier.
Technically speaking, Canadians should not travel outside of their communities this year, let alone the provinces. But this is a government proposal, not mandatory, and has not been implemented. “From a provincial public health perspective, this is a bit confusing.” said Robin Richardson, Whistler Blackcomb Season Pass holder, who took 50 minutes to ski from his home in Squamish. . “There is no unnecessary travel, but a major tourist hub is open.”
There is no doubt that the tourists are there. “It’s busier than many people expected,” said Mike Douglas, a professional ski and film producer who has lived in Whistler for more than 30 years. “It feels like there are people everywhere here, especially from Eastern Canada.”
Nevertheless, the locals were caught off guard by the province’s orders.Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton told Canada Global news The community is in a state of shock. “Since Whistler Blackcomb has a high level of management of this mountain, no one expects it,” said Whistler resident and skier Hélène Castonguay, a retired nurse who was skiing on the last day of operation Whistler Blackcomb Mountain. “There will always be people who don’t wear a mask, but that is 99% safe.”
In January, Whistler has successfully handled 19 COVID-19 cases. Officials attributed the figures at the time to holiday trips and celebrations. Therefore, for the spring break in March, the province tried to take proactive actions to make Whistler a priority for vaccination. Douglas said: “They conducted a three-day vaccination blitz in the town and vaccinated many people in the community.” “Everyone is fascinated by spring.” But these measures are not enough.
Some locals expressed frustration with the Internet, but most of the online responses provided support, thanking the resort for being able to operate for four months.
Others use a humorous attitude to deal with situations, such as the Instagram account @Whistler_Memes. The order to close the resort was delivered on a perfect bluebird day, and the account was posted with an image of the actor Michael Cera smiling brightly, and it said: “Today is really a beautiful day…” Below is a plug. Pulling another picture looking at the camera, suddenly felt frustrated, and continued to say: “Be sad.”
Lead photo: stockstudioX/Getty