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Oregon, NorCal Ski Areas Cease Operations

Oregon ski areas planning to stay open have decided to cease operations starting Sunday and continuing for a week in response to the rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic.Mt. Bachelor ski area in Central Oregon was the first to shutter, announcing Saturday it would shut down all operations starting Sunday and continuing through March 22. Then late Sunday morning Timberline on Mount Hood and Mt. Hood Meadows announced in near-unison that they would close at 4 p.m. and remain closed until March 22, as well.

Mt. Ashland and Mt. Shasta Ski Park both announced the end of their operations starting Monday, March 16.

Mt. Hood Meadows issued a statement saying its overwhelming concern for team members and guests led to the “pause in operations.”

“We will take this time to evaluate the next steps and better understand this pandemic and how it will impact all of us,” the statement continued. “We will spend the week sanitizing our facilities and equipment, working with state and local health authorities and considering potential operating scenarios that would allow us to reopen in a responsible manner.”

Timberline announced on Instagram its closure of all ski area operations and the Wy’East Day Lodge, with hopes to reopen on March 23. It was keeping Timberline Lodge open.

Mt. Bachelor released a statement Saturday that quoted  its president and general manager, John McLeod, saying, “Suspending our operations is a necessary step for us to take in support of our nation’s efforts to limit the spread and risks associated with COVID-19.”

He went on to say, “This is an unusual and dynamic situation, however, we continue to believe outdoor mountain recreation provides a meaningful escape to nature, which is what made this a difficult decision, but the correct decision for now.”

The Oregon ski area closures come as other Northwest snow-sport destinations, including Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass in Washington and British Columbia’s Whistler were shutting down Sunday.

The three Oregon ski resorts closing Sunday had indicated on Friday that they would take preventive measures – cancelling large-crowd events and stepping up sanitizing efforts – while keeping chairlifts and ski areas open.

Dave Tragethon, the vice president of sales and marketing at Mt. Hood Meadows, told OPB Friday that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement only applies to organized events of 250 people or more in one place. He said it doesn’t apply to normal business operations like stores and malls, which continue to be open. He said Mt. Hood Meadows would take precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

In the statement issued Sunday, Meadows management wrote, “This is an important decision - one which we don’t take lightly and only after much soul searching.”

Copyright 2020 Jefferson Public Radio

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