British Colombia in Canada is seeing an upturn in coronavirus infections with the new Brazilian variant becoming more prominent. The province’s health authorities and government have stepped up restrictions on movement and opening of indoor premises, among other measures, in response, and this is leading to a faster end top the season than expected.
The first shock came with Whistler Blackcomb, which operates North America’s largest ski area, being ordered to shut down for three weeks due to particularly high infection levels there.
“It’s a shame Whistler has had to close early, but we’ve had an amazing season, so really can’t complain,” said Nickie Mabey, the owner of holiday company Mabey Ski, which offers ski adventures around the world but is based in the famous Canadian resort, who added, “As far as the resort goes, although BC has announced a 3-week lockdown, Whistler Blackcomb has said it’s going to close for the remainder of the ski season and focus its efforts on the summer season instead. They have kept one designated uphill route open from the Main Village, via Singing Pass.”
Whistler usually stays open to late May and, except for last spring, normally offers glacier snowsports in June and July, however its owners, Vail Resorts, now say ski lifts will stay closed until next winter now, even if the resort is given the go ahead to reopen.
However there have been other knock-on effects from the increased restrictions.
Revelstoke, home to North America’s biggest lift-served vertical, announced on Wednesday it was unable to operate as it could not get enough staff in due to the new limitations. It decided later in the day that that position would not changed so it has closed early, as of now.
Big White, which has only just been given the all clear after a pandemic spike there through much of the winter, contained to some staff accommodation, issued a statement that it,
“…has made the difficult decision to close for the season on April 5 at 4pm, 6 days earlier than the scheduled date of April 11, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the recent surge in P.1 variant cases in BC.”
Other than Whistler most major BC resorts close by mid-April anyway and it is as yet unclear if others will close early. Some have been going on a social media offensive top stress they are open to counter any “Everywhere is closed” narrative taking hold.
Sun Peaks said they’re still open but had sold out of some weekend lift tickets due to limited capacities because of the pandemic and urged anyone wanting to get a final day or two of the season in, who is lucky enough to be able to get there, to book ahead as soon as possible.