Vail Resorts, the world’s largest operator of ski resorts, has announced that all of its North American resorts will remain closed for the 2019-20 winter ski season amidst the continued challenges associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Company’s had initially announced a one week closure from last weekend as mass ski resort closures picked up speed across Europe and North America but has now decided that’s it for winter 2019-20.

“The Company will consider reopening Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia in late April/early May, dependent on the situation with COVID-19 as well as weather conditions,” a statement from the group says.

Whistler Blackcomb normally stays open in to May and offers glacier skiing in to June and last year the company said Breckenridge would aim to stay open to late May each year, conditions permitting.

Vail Resorts’ subsidiaries now operate 37 resorts and urban ski areas in three countries including North America’s largest, Whistler (pictured op) and Park City (above) which had the largest ski area in the US. The many other famous name resorts they now own include Breckenridge and Crested Butte in Colorado; Stowe in Vermont and Perisher, the largest ski area in Australia.

“Our decision to end the season now is evidence of the fast-moving situation involving COVID-19, and it was not an easy one to make as we deeply considered the extended impact it will have on our guests, employees and communities,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “While it is incredibly disappointing for our Company to mark the end of the season so early, we know it is the most responsible path forward.”

Most other ski areas in North America have now closed, although as of Wednesday, 18th March, a dozen or so ski areas are still open, with a concentration of still-open centres in the US state of Idaho.

In the wider world ski areas remain open in Finland, Japan, Scotland and Sweden at the time of writing (12.00 GMT on 18th March), but things continue to move quickly.

Finland’s largest resort Levi is still operating.