Whitewater Ski Resort has shut down three weeks prior to the final day of the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The resort said Friday it planned to stay open by introducing preventative measures including reduced capacity in the lodge, increased disinfection and the cancellation of a public shuttle bus between Nelson and Whitewater.
But on Sunday, Whitewater announced it was shutting down ahead of its planned April 5 closing day.
Bex Dawkes, Whitewater’s marketing supervisor, said the decision to close came after staff read the proverbial room.
“From our perspective it was just not creating the right environment where social distancing was really possible, and we didn’t want to be a part of encouraging this virus to spread any more than it necessarily would anyway,” she said.
“We just felt it was more for people’s health. We didn’t really want to see this community have a huge outbreak and for us to be a part of having done that.”
Whitewater was closed Saturday by winds and re-opened Sunday. That turned out to be the final day of fun for skiers and snowboarders.
Dawkes said staff thought the measures were working, and that guests mostly understood the reasons for doing so.
But after one day of operating, Dawkes said, it was clear those measures weren’t enough.
“It’s still a lot of people in a small area, and even just seeing people milling around between the lifts and between the lodge, you know the recommended distance between people is two metres,” she said.
“That can’t really happen in such an enclosed space such as that. So even though we’re outside and it’s unlikely [to spread] in a low-risk zone, we just felt like we needed to be safer than we were really able to be in the way the operations were running. It’s a shame.”
Several ski resorts have since followed Whitewater’s lead in closing down.