British Columbia health officials have said that there has been a surge in Covid transmission linked to people travelling within the province in recent weeks, including trips to Whistler.
"We know people have taken advantage of the weather and the March break to go places with their families, and what that has meant is we've seen a rapid rise in cases as people have returned to their home communities," Dr Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer in the region, said.
Henry did not reveal how many new cases have emerged at Whistler, but she referenced a ‘worrisome cluster’ involving the Covid-19 variant associated with Brazil. On top of being more easily transmissible, there is evidence that the variant may be more resistant to Covid-19 vaccinations.
The restrictions are ‘devastating’
Whistler Blackcomb ski resort will remain closed until 19 April. Henry also announced a slew of other restrictions, including a halt on group fitness activities and a temporary ban on indoor dining at restaurants. Restaurants will still be allowed to serve people on patios and offer takeout under that measure, which is also set to last until 19 April, and also expected to deliver a significant blow to the Whistler community.
Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton described the slate of restrictions, which he first learned about Monday morning, as ‘devastating’. "For businesses, for the community at large, it's going to take some thought about how we move forward and what that closure of three weeks means to our ski season," Crompton told CTV News. "This is an enormous challenge."
Crompton added that he supports the provincial government's efforts and said the need for Whistler residents to follow public health advice remains important.