Earlier-than-expected closure follows similar moves at Whistler, Big White, Revelstoke

By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

The ski season at Panorama Mountain Resort was abruptly cut short earlier this week, following two positive COVID-19 cases at the resort.

The resort had its last day of operations on Easter Monday (Monday, April 5), almost a full week earlier than its planned closing day of Sunday, April 11. The earlier-than-expected shut down came as COVID-19 cases across B.C. surge and follows similar early closures by other large-scale ski resorts in B.C., including Whistler Blackcomb, Big White (near Kelowna), and Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had earlier in March cited the surge in COVID-19 cases in Whistler, emphasizing a need to halt travel-related COVD-19 transmission, and national news media have reported that B.C. is seeing the largest spread of the P.1 variant of COVID-19 any where in the world outside of Brazil (where the variant was first discovered). The P.1 variant has been described as being more contagious, and causing more severe symptoms as compared with normal, less severe strains of COVID-19. The variant may also possibly be able to re-infect people who have already had it and potentially could be less responsive to current vaccines. Several cases of P.1 in other parts of Canada have been linked back to Whistler.

In a note posted to Panorama’s website, resort president and chief executive officer Steve Paccagnan cited both that the provincial government’s concern about the growing number of COVID-19 cases and the two positive cases (both people are in self-isolation) as reasons contributing to the early shutdown, outlining that the health and safety of our guests, community and employees is an absolute priority.

“Even though the world was tipped upside down by COVID-19, we’ve enjoyed day upon fantastic day of skiing,” wrote Paccagnan, later adding that guests who purchased tickets for the period from Tuesday, April 6 through Sunday, April 11 will be refunded automatically and that guests with lodging bookings for the same period will be contacted by Panorama Central Reservations. Paccagnan expressed gratefulness for the support the resort has had from skiers, riders and the community, saying “your dedication in following our safety protocols has enabled us to deliver an incredible experience in challenging times.” At this time the Greywolf Golf Course at Panorama is still slate to open on May 7, and Panorama’s bike park and summer operations are still set to kick off on June 26.

Elsewhere in the Columbia Valley, the Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery announced on a Facebook post that one of its staff members has tested positive for COVID-19. 

“The staff member had a known source of exposure outside of the workplace and has been away from work and isolating since the time of exposure, meaning there is very little risk to guests or other staff,” wrote the eatery in its post.

“Our communication with Interior Health and WorkSafe BC indicates as there was no evidence of any transmission in the workplace, and because we have strong protocols in place, there is no benefit to closing at this time. We will continue to follow the guidance of the regulatory bodies involved.”