Whistler Blackcomb temporarily closed amid spiking COVID-19 cases in resort community
VANCOUVER -- The popular Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has been temporarily closed amid another spike in COVID-19 cases in the surrounding community.
B.C. health officials said there's been a surge in coronavirus transmission linked to people travelling within the province in recent weeks, and that includes trips to Whistler, which already spent the early months of 2021 battling an explosion in cases.
"We know people have taken advantage of the weather and the March break to go places with their families, and what that has meant is we've seen a rapid rise in cases as people have returned to their home communities," Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
The provincial health officer did not reveal how many new cases have emerged at Whistler, but did reference a "worrisome cluster" involving the P.1 variant of concern associated with Brazil. On top of being more easily transmissible, there is evidence that variant may be more resistant to COVID-19 antibodies.
Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is expected to remain closed until April 19. Given B.C.'s troubling case numbers, Henry once again reiterated people should only be travelling for essential purposes.
She also announced a slew of other restrictions Monday, including a halt on group fitness activities and a temporary ban on indoor dining at restaurants.
Restaurants will still be allowed to serve people on patios and offer takeout under that measure, which is also set to last until April 19 and also expected to deliver a significant blow to the Whistler community.
Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton described the slate of restrictions, which he first learned about Monday morning, as "devastating."
"For businesses, for the community at large, it's going to take some thought about how we move forward and what that closure of three weeks means to our ski season," Crompton told CTV News. "This is an enormous challenge."
The mayor added that he supports the provincial government's efforts and stressed the need for Whistler residents to follow public health advice.
B.C. identified an alarming 2,518 infections over the weekend, including a new single-day record of 936 cases that were recorded from Friday to Saturday. The province's rolling weekly average for new cases increased to 803 per day – the second-highest of the pandemic – and the active caseload reached 6,902.