Big White releases COVID-19 plan for upcoming winter season

Masks required at Big White

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of changes over the past six months, and skiing will be no exception.

On Friday, Big White Ski Resort released its COVID-19 plan for the upcoming ski season, which includes mandatory mask use in lift lines, on the gondola and in all indoor areas at the resort, along with a possible set capacity on daily skiers and boarders.

Michael J. Ballingall, Big White's vice-president, says a reduced resort capacity limit may be mandated by the B.C. government, but regardless, season pass holders will be given priority.

“Let's say they were to reduce it by 25 per cent, or 50 per cent, or 75 per cent, if there was a decision to reduce capacity, for what reason I don't know because everything is spaced out, then we would have to limit the amount of people on any given day,” he said.

“Season pass holders will always have first priority to the lift. Day ticket people, if we are reduced, will have to buy tickets in advance, and some days might sell out.”

He says most two-layer balaclavas or neck warmers, that cover the nose and mouth, will work as a suitable face mask.

"We know there will be people who don't like to wear a mask or are unable to wear a mask, but unfortunately right now during COVID-19, you can't come skiing, you can't use the facility if you don't have a mask on," Ballingall said. 

Night skiing will also be cancelled this year, and the skating rink and tube park will be closed, “due to the challenges with maintaining social distancing, sanitization and the safety of our staff and guests,” according to Big White.

Those taking the chairlifts up will be required to load only with those in their own bubble, and single riders will have to go up by themselves. Although Ballingall says on the six-person chair, two single riders will be able to load together, spaced out on either end of the chair.

Additionally, all day tickets will have to be purchased online and the resort is going entirely cashless, with only debit and credit cards accepted.

While the resort will be without a good chunk of the international staff that usually keep the mountain running, Ballingall says they've had plenty of interest from Canadians looking to spend a season on the mountain this year.

“We've had everyone from kids that are in their gap year of university, they've decided not to go back to university, to retirees that are looking for part time work and they have their own accommodation in town, and everything in between,” Ballingall said.

He said they're still looking to fill housekeeper positions at resort hotels, along with culinary positions, but a full list of job postings can be found here.

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