Big White Ski Resort cancels non-local bookings till Feb. 5 as COVID-19 cluster grows to 143 cases

·2 min read

A ski resort in B.C.'s Okanagan region has cancelled another month's worth of non-local reservations as cases linked to a cluster there continue to climb.

Big White Ski Resort says reservations for people who live outside of the Central Okanagan have been cancelled until Feb. 5, when the province's COVID-19 restrictions are set to expire.

The order advises people not to travel between regions or provinces.

Tracy Layng, vice-president of Big White Central Reservations Ltd., said in an online statement that she has instructed reservation teams to cancel bookings from guests and ski groups all over the country.

"This will take a few days, as there are literally hundreds of reservations due to the pent-up demand of not being able to visit us earlier this season."

The resort, located 55 kilometres southeast of Kelowna, had previously cancelled non-local bookings up until Jan. 8.

The province on Thursday extended its order for another month.

Interior Health on Friday reported seven more cases linked to a cluster at the resort, bringing the total number of cases to 143.

Of the known cases, 91 live on Big White Mountain. Twenty-two of the cases are still active and in isolation, while 121 people have recovered.

Dr. Silvina Mema, the region's medical health officer, said officials are closely monitoring the community cluster.

"It's important visitors and staff keep following precautions to minimize any further spread," she said in a statement. "This ski season, stick to your local ski hill with members of your household."

The initial cases at Big White in December were linked to ski hill staffers who had been living in shared housing and socializing.

The resort fired some of its employees for violating its COVID-19 safety rules.

Mema said the risk remains low for visitors who stick to their immediate household bubble and avoid socializing.