Jon Schaefer, General Manager of Catamount Ski Area / Berkshire East Ski Area in Massachusetts announced in a press release this morning that Berkshire East Ski Area will close for the season today, and Catamount Ski Area will not reopen this weekend. The decision comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic affecting business and leisure operations across the globe.
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According to Schaefer, coronavirus has been discovered in the surrounding areas with a number of people quarantined, and in the interests of public safety, he has decided to close the resorts to help contain any potential virus spread. See full statement below:
Berkshire East will close for the season today, Thursday, March 12 at 4 pm and Catamount Ski Area will not reopen this weekend. COVID-19 has been discovered in the surrounding hill towns and multiple people are being quarantined. To be clear, no known Berkshire East or Catamount customers or employees have been affected by this illness, but as the GM of these businesses, I have a responsibility to my employees and my customers to act swiftly to contain any potential virus spread in areas that I can control.
In 2006, I was buried in an avalanche in British Columbia. While being buried in that tumble of snow the only thing I could think of was “this isn’t worth it…” This experience informs me now as the only thought that comes to me is, “no ski turn is worth a life.”
My role in this business was given to me by my father who loves being at the mountain every day. His demographics put him at a higher risk than others. If I can’t recommend that he visit his facility, how can I ask anyone else to do the same? Our staff is our family. Our guests are our tribe.
Thus, with conviction, we believe that our businesses can be leaders (however small) in beating back COVID-19 from its current beachhead by immediately closing for what remains of the winter season.
There simply is no benefit to remaining open.
The best science shows that this type of aggressive mitigation is both inevitable and overwhelmingly in support of the public good.
We urge other business leaders and our elected officials to follow suit in continuing to aggressively close down public spaces so we can proactively begin to get this insidiousness behind us.
We send the full weight of our prayers to the healthcare workers and their families who are on the front lines of this battle. As this illness spreads exponentially, we must all take immediate action to “flatten the curve” in order to allow our nation’s health care workers to make effective headway against the current caseload of COVID-19.
We shout from our mountain tops that you can make a thousand daily impacts by washing your hands, not touching your face, practice social distancing and simply sit back while doing everything in your power to stop the spread.
This is certainly an inconvenience to our customers and will result in major changes for our staff. None of this is going to be easy and we are passing into unknown territories. But as any good skier knows, you beat back challenging situations by pressing forward into them aggressively and decisively.
Lastly, this is personal, I’m related to medical professionals working in hospitals with active outbreaks. We shut down out of love and support for these people and the staff in these hospitals.
We are confident in the future. We will announce a reopening date for our whitewater rafting, zip lines, aerial adventures, and biking in the coming weeks as guidance comes down from the CDC, the NIH, and WHO.
Catamount Ski Area / Berkshire East Ski Area