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Big White, Sun Peaks closing for the season due to coronavirus

Apex joins list of ski closures

UPDATE: 7 p.m.

Apex Mountain in Penticton has joined a growing list of ski hills who are closing for the season.

In a Facebook post Monday evening, resort GM James Shalman said the ski hill would close for the season Tuesday afternoon.

"After careful consideration and deliberation regarding the rapidly growing concern over COVID-19 and the spread of this pandemic, Apex Mountain Resort will be ceasing operations for the season as of tomorrow, March 17th at 3:30 pm.," the release said.

"As much as we would love to stay open and provide a venue for those to enjoy the outdoors, we feel it is our duty to help reduce the spread of this virus. We apologize for any inconvenience this short notice may cause, however the health and safety of our guests, staff and residents is more important. We appreciate your understanding as we all band together to help lessen the curve in spreading COVID-19. "


UPDATE 3:45 p.m.

Big White Ski Resort and Sun Peaks Ski Resort are ceasing operations this week in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“The last six hours have made it clear that no matter what procedures we put in place, we cannot guarantee the safety of our staff, guests and residents while adhering to the mandatory reduction of group gatherings recommended by the BC Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said resort president and CEO Peter Plimmer.

The resort will close for the season at the end of the day.

With more than 6,000 people currently residing at Big White, Plimmer says it will take an “incredible effort” to wind down operations and see everyone off safely.

Sun Peaks, meanwhile, will close at the end of the day Wednesday.

“While the skiing and morale both remain fantastic in Sun Peaks, the unprecedented Coronavirus situation has created an overwhelming and difficult stretch for our guests, staff, and community in recent days,” the resort said in a message to passholders.

The hill will be winding down operations over the next two days, ceasing ticket sales and limiting access to food and beverage options to 50 people per facility. 

Mountain-operated retail and rental outlets will also close at the end of the day Wednesday.

“A plan is currently being implemented to take care of all our impacted employees. We cannot say enough about how the teams have managed these extremely difficult situations,” Sun Peaks says.

Apex Mountain Resort has yet to comment of the tightening guidelines that led to closure of Big White and Sun Peaks.


ORIGINAL 5 a.m.

Spring break is here, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is advising the public to practise “social distancing” techniques. 

But that doesn't mean you have to stay cooped up inside! Big White, Apex Mountain and Sun Peaks all remain open until further notice and with nothing but sunshine in the forecast, what better time to layer up and get outside?

“What we know right now is being out in the great outdoors is a good thing for everybody for all kinds of reasons. It’s when people start to congregate inside buildings that we’re trying to minimize,” says Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice-president at Big White Ski Resort. 

“Skiing is one of those few sports that families can do as a cohesive unit. I think it’s important that we stay open and help facilitate outdoor adventure and outdoor fun,” says James Shalman, general manager of Apex Mountain and Resort. 

“There have been some events that have been cancelled, and that’s definitely affected people, but I think some of those people still came anyway even if their event was cancelled, and they’re still out here enjoying the mountain,” explained Arlene Schieven, president and CEO, Tourism Sun Peaks. 

The resorts have increased their disinfecting efforts and have tried to have resources such as hand sanitizer available for the public. They also are trying to minimize groups of people hanging around, especially if they don’t know each other. 

“We are definitely recommending social distancing from people, we are doing some effects to facilitate that such as reducing [to] singles in lift lines,” explains Shalman. 

Big White’s lifts can hold up to eight people and they have gondolas that host more than a couple too, that’s why Ballingall is encouraging people to go with people you know. 

“If they want to ride two-by-two, three at a time, or as a family of five in the gondola - as long as they know each other and they’re not riding with strangers, we don’t know where everybody’s been so we’re just asking people to know the people that you’re hanging around.”

With limiting social gathering the resorts are trying to keep people outside as much as possible, including asking people to bring their lunch up the resorts and eating by their cars to keep indoors clear. 

“We’re encouraging quick grab and go…. That is a complete reversal of our standard operations Miranda, what we’ve tried to do in the past is [ask people] to come and sit and stay as long as you’d like - and now it’s come, get in and get out as fast as you can,” says Ballingall. 

Apex is encouraging their skiers to also sit outside on their deck as opposed to inside. 

For up to date information on COVID-19 check out Castanet.net



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