Ski resort BC fires employees after dozens of COVID-19 cases linked to parties, shared housing

Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, BC, fired some of its employees for breaking a social responsibility contract, after health officials announced that 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been linked to the resort.

The contract includes clauses on reporting illness symptoms to managers, as well as compliance with public health orders at social events, according to the resort’s management.

In a statement released Wednesday, the company said that all employees must comply with the contract and sign the health declaration at the beginning of the shift.

“Big White Ski Resort Ltd has a zero tolerance policy for any employee who violates these documents,” says the statement. “For that, we had to dismiss some of our employees.”

It is not clear how many employees were laid off.

Resort managers and health officials have linked the spread of the disease to social gatherings and many people who live in the same house.

Most infections occur in people in their 20s and 30s who live in homes with large numbers of people, according to health officials.

“We are considering large families – families that have 16 or more people in them,” said health doctor Dr. Silvina Mema.

“Individuals are sharing rooms with two, three, even four people sleeping in the same room and that’s where we saw cases come from.”

RCMP increasing patrols at the resort

Kelowna RCMP is stepping up patrols in Big White – located about 55 kilometers southeast of Kelowna, in the Okanagan Valley, BC – to address community concerns about people who do not comply with provincial health orders.

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“The RCMP will be there to help the community to contain this situation and maintain public safety,” Supt. Kara Triance said in a statement.

“While we certainly can, and will enforce the provisions available to us under the COVID Related Measures Act, we continue to encourage everyone to voluntarily comply with provincial health orders, so enforcement is not necessary.”

According to the provincial law on related measures COVID-19, someone who organizes a social gathering may face fines of $ 2,300.

Anyone who refuses to use a facial cover in public indoor spaces or does not follow a policeman’s instructions could face a $ 230 fine, according to the RCMP.

Skier Lloyd Kerr wears a mask and has lunch in the parking lot to keep his distance from other skiers in Big White. (Nathan Peacock / CBC)

Resort management said it was working with health officials to find housing for workers affected by the COVID-19 group.

“The focus of our team and task force is to help all those who need accommodation to isolate themselves, to make the transition to this space as quickly as possible and to continue to operate the resort safely and in accordance with our COVID- 19 security plan, “Big White President Peter Plimmer said in a statement.

The company said the managers are meeting with the team to get them back to committing to the resort’s social responsibility contract.

‘I will still be in pieces’

Despite dozens of COVID-19 cases linked to the ski resort, health officials said it was safe for people to visit for skiing and other activities.

“It’s a shame it happened, but as a patron of Big White I don’t feel at risk,” said Lloyd Kerr while taking a break from skiing on Wednesday.

“I bring my own lunch and stay in the parking lot and wear my mask when I’m there by the elevators, so I’ll still be in pieces.”

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