BC’s ski resorts have a disjointed approach to mandatory vaccination policies, with some hills requiring riders and staff have both shots to access the mountain and others letting anyone go up the lifts.
BC’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, confirmed to Daily Hive that skiers and riders do not need to vaccinated to hit the slopes. However, parent company Vail Resorts requires all mountain employees to be vaccinated.
For guests, Whistler-Blackcomb only stipulates that diners at mountain restaurants show proof of vaccination. V
Although skiing is primarily an outdoor sport, Whistler-Blackcomb customers share the gondola ride up with others — and an online petition with more than 10,000 signatures is begging Vail Resorts to reconsider.
“Every winter morning, there’s pressure to upload quickly. Singles skiers take every available space. Physical distancing on gondolas is measured in inches rather than feet,” the petition’s authors wrote.
“Long before COVID-19, locals referred to gondolas as ‘germ buckets’. With COVID-19, the risk of spreading disease is greatly magnified.”
Patrons will be required to wear masks on the gondola ride because it’s considered an indoor space. At her news conference Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry likened it to riding public transit.
This year, masks will not be required in outdoor lineups or on outdoor chairlifts. Physical distancing will also not be enforced.
“The mountain has, and continues to, work closely with public officials and operate in accordance with all local public health orders,” spokesperson for Whistler Blackcomb said in an email.
Mountains that require vaccination
Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, which dealt with a challenging cluster of COVID-19 cases last season, is also requiring its employees and volunteers to be fully vaccinated. Guests at the mountain won’t need to be vaccinated to ride.
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North Shore mountains
Mt Seymour spokesperson Simon Whitehead told Daily Hive that it nearly has 100% of its staff vaccinated voluntarily, but it’s not planning to mandate vaccines for skiers or snowboarders.
“We’re following all provincial health orders,” Whitehead told Daily Hive. “Whatever we’re told to do, we’ll absolutely do. Right now there’s no mandate for skiers or boarders to be vaccinated.”
Cypress Mountain Resort has not yet responded to Daily Hive’s request for comment.
Ski resorts not included in BC’s vaccine passport requirements
Patrons are required to prove they have both shots for a number of activities in BC, including dining at restaurants, going to a gym, and attending events.
But ski resorts aren’t mentioned in the vaccine certificate framework.
Henry said that the provincial government is working with individual ski hills to review their safety plans. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton is advocating for Vail Resorts to strengthen Whistler-Blackcomb’s vaccination policy.
“They want to have a great ski season where people stay well,” Dix said.