Big White fires employees after COVID-19 "cluster" discovered at resort

Dec 16 2020, 6:05 pm

A day after a COVID-19 “cluster” was confirmed at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, resort management said some employees have now been let go as a result.

In a statement, the resort said it has a daily health protocol in place “which follows the guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer,” and requires all employees working in the resort and their offices off-mountain to sign a Health Declaration upon beginning work.

The mountain noted it has a zero-tolerance policy with any employees who are found to be in breach of the documents, and “to that end, we have had to let go some of our employees.”

Earlier this week, Big White Senior VP Michael Ballingall told Daily Hive that concerns of transmission began after a party hosted on November 28.

“We don’t believe that our staff were involved in that party,” he said. “But we’re also not naive to think that there could’ve been a few that we’re not aware of.”

Ballingall said that “some people tested positive” for COVID-19 as a result of the party, and added that a number of resort employees were isolated in their staff accommodation.

Officials with Interior Health confirmed that the cluster affected 60 people, and that the the cases are “related to transmission caused by social activity in homes and accommodations.”

Big White said it has directed its management team “to personally speak to all staff regarding the community cluster, and present them (for the third time) with its Social Responsibility Contract to once again recommit to and physically acknowledge in the presence of a supervisor.”

In the meantime, the mountain continues to operate, and is reminding guests “to familiarize themselves with its COVID-19 Safety Plan before coming to the resort.”

It reiterated that the overall COVID-19 risk “is low for families and individuals visiting Big White who stick to their immediate household bubble and avoid socializing and gathering with people outside their immediate bubble.”

As well, outdoor activities at Big White “are considered safe for anyone following public health direction such as physical distancing, wearing a face covering, and staying home when sick.”

Officials with Interior Health will continue testing at the resort this week.

With files from Vincent Plana

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