Social activity in homes and accommodation at Big White Ski Resort has resulted in the transmission of COVID-19. (Big White Ski Resort photo)

Social activity in homes and accommodation at Big White Ski Resort has resulted in the transmission of COVID-19. (Big White Ski Resort photo)

Big White Ski Resort pulls passes, cancels bookings for non-locals

Anyone not within 150 km of resort not allowed to come for holidays

Anyone not within 150 kilometres of Big White Ski Resort has had their holiday passes pulled, in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the resort.

The notice was sent out by the resort to pass-holders on Wednesday night.

Resort management has also provided further clarity on previous reports that employees had been fired following a cluster outbreak at Big White.

Big White Ski Resort vice president Michael Ballingall said less than ten employees have been let go.

Today, Interior Health announced 16 more cases at the resort, bringing the total to 76 announced this week. Individuals infected are self-isolating on the hill, Interior Health confirmed Friday afternoon.

The resort later confirmed 44 of the cases reside on Big White Mountain, and 57 remain active.

READ MORE: 16 additional cases identified in Big White COVID-19 cluster

READ MORE: Big White employees fired as resort officials curb COVID-19 cluster

Since news broke of the cluster at the resort, many have cancelled their Christmas and New Years’ trips to the mountain. Just 20 per cent of those who had previously booked were still prepared to come for the holidays, some from as far as Ontario.

“We sent out a blanket email, we started to get the calls, a lot of people were really upset… we’re upsetting people. But there’s a worldwide pandemic. The numbers are up everywhere,” said Big White Ski Resort vice president Michael Ballingall.

“Do you live in Edmonton, do you live in Winnipeg, do you live in Saskatoon, well no you shouldn’t come. So we cancelled. We returned a lot of money.”

Ballingall said they took direction from Interior Health in determining appropriate proximity to the resort.

“I’m not your local mountain if you live in Kamloops,” he said.

“I’m sorry if you were looking forward to it. But this thing is real. Nobody was more shocked than me and my fellow executives when we got the number (76 cases).”

Those who have had their passes cancelled have been given full refunds, according to Ballingall.

The resort previously took a large hit to their bookings when inter-provincial travel restrictions were announced. Then, about 80 per cent of those who planned on coming for the holidays have cancelled.

READ MORE: Two more Kelowna schools confirm COVID-19 exposures

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

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