The largest ski resort in North America is closing for at least three weeks effective midnight tonight. The pause comes as part of a provincial effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 through new restrictions on business and travel. Gyms, indoor dining, and houses of worship are also closing by order of the BC government. Whistler Blackcomb was specifically identified to “address and prevent community spread related to non-essential travel,” according to a news release. Other British Columbia ski resorts are currently allowed to remain open.
“Covid-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan. “We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”
Whistler Blackcomb parent company Vail Resorts recently announced 28.4 percent decline in net income due to effects of the pandemic. Whistler Blackcomb was disproportionately impacted due to the Canadian border remaining closed. Destination visits declined to 15 percent of Whistler Blackcomb visitation this season compared to 48 percent in the same period the prior year. Skier visits across all North American Vail Resorts declined 8.2 percent for the season as of March 7th.
The Whistler Blackcomb closure order is scheduled to last through April 19th, 2021. Whistler Mountain had been scheduled to close April 18th with Blackcomb Mountain planned to remain open until May 24th.
On Monday evening Whistler Blackcomb Chief Operating Officer Geoff Buchheister issued the following statement:
“Throughout the season, Whistler Blackcomb has prioritized the health and safety of our guests and employees. Monday’s order from the Province of British Columbia to close Whistler Blackcomb came as a surprise and we respect the decision and are taking immediate steps to comply. We would like to thank all of our guests and employees for their willingness to adapt to our COVID safety protocols and will update the website with more information on the future of the 2020-21 season.”
By Tuesday, resort officials decided to close both mountains for the season and turn their attention to summer.