Events like the Coldsmoke Powder Festival, seen here in 2018, will still go on when Whitewater Ski Resort opens for the new season. But a number of new COVID-19 precautions have also been introduced at the resort. Photo: Tyler Harper

Events like the Coldsmoke Powder Festival, seen here in 2018, will still go on when Whitewater Ski Resort opens for the new season. But a number of new COVID-19 precautions have also been introduced at the resort. Photo: Tyler Harper

Whitewater Ski Resort to require masks on guests, staff when season begins

The rule will be in place for all of Whitewater’s indoor buildings

Mandatory masks, changes to lift line etiquette and new safety precautions at the lodge are among the changes visitors can expect when the season begins at Whitewater Ski Resort.

The resort, which began selling season passes Tuesday, will require all staff and guests to wear face masks when they are inside the lodge, ski and guest services buildings. Whitewater’s indoor operations manager Rebeckah Hornung said the resort considered provincial health rules and its own services before deciding to make masks mandatory.

“We just looked at the whole operation and what would be the most safe way to operate in terms of keeping our community safe, and we just decided that face masks indoors would be that option,” said Hornung.

How Whitewater defines masks, she said, is still being discussed. Balaclavas, scarves and neck gaiters may cover the nose and mouth, but Hornung said more research is required prior to the season on whether those types of coverings adequately replace medical and fabric masks.

When guests are inside the lodge, they’ll be asked to keep a mask on until they are seated at a table. The normally raucous lodge will also have its capacity reduced, tables spread out and plastic barriers installed. Hornung added the resort is also considering offering food and beverage services in the area outside the lodge.

Peter Lonergan, Whitewater’s sales and marketing director, said staff are working to maintain the lodge’s atmosphere despite the different look.

“I don’t necessarily think we’re going to lose it,” said Lonergan. “Obviously there’s going to be a change, but that vibe comes from the people and the skiing and I don’t think that’s changed.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Whitewater to close in March three weeks prior to its final day of operations. Other B.C. resorts including Rossland’s Red Mountain soon followed suit.

When skiers and snowboarders return to Whitewater, they’ll notice changes outdoors as well.

Lift lines will be altered, and guests will be encouraged to ride with their friends and family instead of sharing seats with people they don’t know, which in turn might mean some chairs occupied by only one person. Hornung said how lift lines will work is still being researched across the ski resort industry.

“I don’t think it’ll have a huge impact,” she said. “But we also haven’t really seen the protocols from industry yet specifically on that. We haven’t really got a full answer on that.”

Lonergan said there will be an adjustment, and more patience, required of guests to make the lines flow safely.

“It’s really going to be getting people used to the change and just working with our staff and each other to make it as smooth as possible,” he said.

If international travel remains restricted in December, when Whitewater typically opens, the backgrounds of staff and clientele will also change.

Hornung said employment is generally made up of 60-to-80 per cent local residents. She said the resort has begun accepting applications, which are slightly down in numbers, and that she’ll know more in the coming weeks when hiring begins.

Lonergan meanwhile said the resort isn’t sure who its visitors from outside the West Kootenay will be. Even if the American border remains closed, he said, Whitewater could still see a rise in Canadian tourists.

“I do personally believe we’re on the bucket list of a lot of people within B.C. as well. So I do think we’ll see that we’ll see visitations from the province.”

Annual events like the Coldsmoke Powder Festival meanwhile will continue, although Lonergan said the running of the junior freeski competition will depend in part on a decision by the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association, which runs the sport.

Hornung said Whitewater will also have a lesson program, but how it will look is still being worked out. She said the resort is also waiting to hear from School District 8 if local class visits will continue.

Related:

Tourists returning to Nelson area as province slowly re-opens

B.C. tourism industry seeks $680M to rebuild after pandemic

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusSkiing and Snowboarding

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Interior Health COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Six new COVID cases in Castlegar last week

The Kootenay Boundary is seeing a rise in COVID cases

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read