Dealing with COVID-19 cluster, extended rules, B.C. ski resort cancels non-local bookings
An image of Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Source: Big White Ski Resort
VANCOUVER -- A popular ski resort in B.C.'s Okanagan is cancelling all non-local bookings until next month, it announced Friday.
In a post on its website, Big White Ski Resort said the only skiers and snowboarders allowed on its slopes will be those who live in the area.
The report said its reservations team will be calling non-local customers who've made bookings any time before midnight on Feb. 5.
"I have instructed our reservation teams to start the onerous task of calling excited guests and ski groups from all over the country and cancel their bookings to Big White Ski Resort," Tracy Layng, vice-president of Big White Central Reservations Ltd., said in a statement Friday.
"This will take a few days, as there are literally hundreds of reservations due to the pent-up demand of not being able to visit us earlier this season."
The decision was made following the extension of public health orders in B.C., including that non-essential travel should be avoided, even within the province.
Residents of B.C. have been told not to travel for vacations, recreation or social visits for the time being. These orders are in effect until Feb. 5.
Big White said it's taking the orders seriously, and encouraging others to do the same. The ski hill will remain open, however.
"It's safe to ski at your local mountain," said Big White's senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall.
"If you live in the Central Okanagan, we are your local mountain. Wear your mask, ski in your household bubble, wash your hands, and don't gather with people outside your bubble."
Several COVID-related safety measures are in place at the resort, including contactless payments, a limit to daily tickets and physical distancing in lineups and on chair lifts.
Still, the area has been dealing with a cluster of the novel coronavirus.
An update from Interior Health earlier this week said the total number of cases tied to the resort had reached 136. Of those, 88 live on the mountain.
As of Tuesday, 109 people in the cluster were considered recovered, and health officials said the risk of infection is low for those visiting the resort, provided they avoid gathering with anyone outside their household.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk