Two young skiers navigate the hills at Mount Washington. (Jenn Dykstra photo)
With snow sports being deemed safe by B.C.’s provincial health officer, Mount Washington hasn’t missed a beat.
While Whistler has seen 614 new cases since Jan. 1st, the local ski hill has remained COVID-free.
Marketing manager Kayla Stockton says a big reason why is visitors adhering to the resort’s strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“Our team and staff does a great job in making sure that guests are complying,” she said. “We have a lot of new policies in place, physical distancing being one of them, mandatory masks, sanitization practices of course becoming the new norm pretty much anywhere you go, and no different up here.”
Stockton added that another preemptive measure Mount Washington takes is keeping it local.
“As much within our control, we have Vancouver Island-only guests visiting, which is typically the case,” she said.
“We do normally see during a regular season, about 97 percent Vancouver Island guests, so this year is obviously different than that, but not seeing anyone coming from the mainland, that’s for sure.”
She points out that all guests have to provide their address and other details which allows the resort to do thorough contact tracing.
Stockton says they have the authority to turn visitors away who aren’t from the island: “People have called to book accommodation or what have you and we’ve said, ‘No, you cannot book at this time, provincial guidelines will not allow for that, and that is something as a business that we are able to do.”
The pandemic has also made it feel a lot busier than it probably is on the mountain, according to Stockton.
“There’s a lot more cars on the road, people aren’t able to carpool, there’s a lot less shuttle bus options available for people getting up here, so we definitely have seen a lot more traffic in the parking lots and in those areas which I think makes it feel a lot busier.”
The same goes for lift lines, she added.
“Our up to lift capacity is a lot lower with people only loading with their household groups. Maintaining physical distance in lines, having sometimes one or two people go up a chair at a time versus six people going up, is making the lines seem longer. There aren’t any more bodies on the hill, it’s just a little bit different, the way people are moving around.”
She said staff go through COVID symptom checklists, no different than any other workplaces.
The resort just passed the halfway point of its season, with opening day back on Dec. 4th and closing day set for April 4th.