British Columbia’s ski resorts are taking different routes down the mountain when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Both Grouse Mountain and the Revelstoke Mountain Resort, which are owned and operated by Northland Properties, have decided to require all guests 12 years of age and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to access the ski hill.
Grouse Mountain employees are also required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the winter season.
Whistler, owned by Vail Resorts, has decided not to require vaccine cards to access the ski hill.
An online petition calling on the company to reverse the policy is closing in on nearly 10,000 signatures.
“It seems clear that Vail Resorts will not change its policy on vaccine certificates unless it is ordered by the provincial health authority. It is up to you, Dr. Bonnie Henry, to change the policy so that the Covid 19 safety orders are science-based and consistent,” the petition reads.
“Every winter morning, there’s pressure to upload quickly. Singles skiers take every available space. Physical distancing on gondolas is measured in inches rather than feet. Most skiers will not wear masks because neck tubes and scarves are permitted – because they are often soggy and rarely worn properly over the nose, they offer little protection.”
The B.C. vaccine card is required for indoor events including gyms, restaurants, weddings, sporting events, and concerts.
When asked on Tuesday, Henry said local public health officials have been reviewing safety plans with each individual ski hill.
Masks are required indoors and on gondolas, which are considered a form of public transit.
But the province will not require proof of vaccination to board a gondola or chairlift.
“The B.C. vaccine card is required in all of those settings where you have either a licensed premise, where you’re serving food, restaurants, sit-down restaurants, etc,” Henry said.
“We know that there’s very strong protection plans and my colleagues have been working with each of the ski hills to make sure that they are robust.”
Cypress Mountain Resort and Mt. Seymour Ski Resort have also decided not to impose a vaccine mandate.
Henry said skiing is not necessarily a higher risk activity and there was very little transmission last year outdoors, including on lifts and gondolas.
“We’re not seeing transmission in gondolas, even in the absence of vaccination,” Henry said.
“It is very important to have those safety plans. It is a requirement to wear masks on gondolas, on ski lifts, in lineups when you’re close to people, and are more and more important this year, of course, but we also encourage everybody who’s going there to be vaccinated.”
The province also noted the new requirements for vaccination on flights, meaning travellers have a higher likelihood of being vaccinated.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said he has had conversations with Whistler Mayor Jack Cromptom about the measures.
Dix indicated Crompton would like to see strict vaccine rules in place.
“Mayor Crompton is advocating very strongly, and certainly directly to us as well on this question, because they want to have a great ski season in Whistler, one where people of course stay well and get healthier on their trip and not have to deal with COVID-19,” Dix said.