British Columbia is implementing a three-week “circuit breaker”-style lockdown, imposing widespread restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants, group fitness, and shuttered worship services—and closing Whistler Blackcomb resort. All other winter resorts remain open. Affected businesses must close by midnight on March 29 and remain closed until April 19.
The pause comes after the province recorded 2,518 new cases of Covid-19 over the last three days, including a record high 936 on Saturday. Six more people have died.
“We have seen the start of exponential growth,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a Monday press conference. “Gathering indoors is what is the greatest risk to all of us right now.”
Henry said that during targeted workplace inspections at Whistler, the province found that staff were struggling to maintain public health restrictions between restaurant patrons. She said people who travelled to Whistler and to other parts of the province over March break during the recent holidays, in some cases, brought the virus back to their home communities.
In a website post Whistler Blackcomb said, “We were just informed today by the Province of British Columbia that Whistler Blackcomb has been ordered to close as of midnight tonight. We would like to thank all of our guests & employees for their willingness to adapt to our Covid safety protocols we put in place this season.”
Before the shutdown, Whistler mountain was scheduled to close April 18, the day before the three-week pause ends. Blackcomb was scheduled to close May 24.
“Covid-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan. “We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”