(Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)

(Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)

Big White ties new COVID-19 case growth to ‘unsanctioned Australia Day gatherings’

Positive cases continue to stem from privately managed group housing

Big White Ski Resort is attributing new cases of COVID-19 on the mountain to “unsanctioned Australia Day gatherings.”

On Tuesday, Interior Health announced five new cases of COVID-19 tied to the Big White cluster, bringing the total number of cases since Dec. 15 to 231. The previous Friday, the health authority noted just one new case.

Michael J. Ballingall, Big White Ski Resort’s senior vice president, said the spike in new cases could be linked to increased testing prompted by Australia Day gatherings. Typically, the resort has a large number of Australian staff members. Though there are likely fewer due to the pandemic, some international staff are working at the resort this year.

Positive cases continue to stem from privately managed group housing, Ballingall said.

“The numbers are consistently at a point now where they’re somewhat manageable. Any positive cases at the resort is one positive case too many, but we are able to move those that require quarantine into safe, isolated housing immediately thanks to the work done by Interior Health, the Regional District and the Big White COVID-19 taskforce,” said Ballingall.

READ MORE: Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

READ MORE: Big White COVID-19 cluster grows by five cases

Previously, Big White announced it lost more than $7.3 million due to cancelling bookings from non-local customers.

“We are anxious to hear the latest from Dr. Bonnie Henry on Feb. 5, and once we have a better idea of what travel and tourism is going to look like over the next few months, we’ll be able to adjust our COVID-19 protocols as necessary to accommodate provincial travellers. Until then, it’s locals-only, and a reminder to stay in your household bubble, especially this weekend for Superbowl Sunday. Fewer faces, larger spaces should be your motto.”

On Tuesday, the resort has removed the passes of two people who refused to wear a mask indoors or in lift lines, as the resort and provincial health orders mandate.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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