One day after health officials announced 60 cases of COVID-19 related to Big White, the ski resort announced it had fired some employees for breaching COVID-19 social responsibility contracts.
According to Big White, the coronavirus cases are related to group housing and social gatherings.
“Big White Ski Resort Ltd. has a zero tolerance policy with any employees who are found to be in breach of these documents,” the resort said in a press release.
“To that end, we have had to let go some of our employees.”
It’s not known how many employees were fired.
Big White management declined interviews on Wednesday, stating they were too busy dealing with Interior Health and police.
However, the resort said its contracts lay out parameters for employees to follow, such as adhering to government health orders, including bans on social gatherings.
As to where the cluster began, Interior Health said it’s hard to figure out, but said the spread was definitely linked to housing.
“We are seeing that individuals are sharing their bedrooms, with two, three, four people — sleeping in the same bedroom and that is where we are seeing the cases come from,” said Dr. Silvina Mema, a medical health officer with Interior Health.
“The cluster started, most likely, with a number of different cases. I do not believe this is just one individual that initiated the large cluster.”
Mema continued, stating “we are talking about large households that have eight … or maybe even larger, like 15, in one household.”
Big White says its immediate plans include finding secure, isolated housing for those affected.
“The focus of our team and taskforce is to help all of those that require accommodation to isolate, to transition into this space as soon as possible, and to continue to operate the resort in a safe manner and in accordance to our COVID-19 safety plan,” said the resort.
“This situation is ongoing and has our full attention,” Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White, said in a press release.
“We will continue to update the public, community and media as more information becomes available.”
Interior Health says more testing and contract tracing is already underway and that they are creating a plan with the resort on how to handle more cases as they appear.