There have been no further reports of COVID-19 infections among staff or guests at Northern Escape Heli Skiing.
The firm ended its season on March 16, one month early, in response to the viral outbreak. Shortly after, they received news that one of their recent guests, from America, tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home. This prompted concern on social media that the guest had spread the virus locally.
“Did they trace his steps to see where else he visited while [in northern B.C.]?” asked Breanna Fawn George, a commenter on the Terrace Standard Facebook page.
Northern Health is aware of this reported case of COVID-19, and there are processes in place to track such reports, said Northern Health spokesperson Andrea Palmer. However, Northern Health generally won’t release details about cases or potential cases of COVID-19 in the area.
“We do not want to incite panic or rumors in communities,” she said. “If we know where [someone] contracted it, if we know where they are, and if they are isolating per protocols … under those conditions they are not a threat to public health, so they are entitled to privacy.”
John Forrest, general manager of Northern Escape Heli Skiing, said his employees and guests have not reported any further symptoms.
“We were one of the very first businesses [in the area] to shut its doors,” he said. “We did that out of an abundance of caution for our guests, our staff, and our community. We did so at great financial risk to ourselves, but it was the right thing to do. You need to stop the spread of this as best you can.”
Forrest said Northern Escape Heli Skiing hopes to resume operations at the start of next season, some time around January 2021, but that might not be possible.
“That will obviously depend on where the pandemic is going, if a vaccine has been rate, if the travel restrictions are being reduced,” he said. “Canadians only make up 5 per cent of our clientele, so unless a whole bunch of Canadians decided they wanted to go heli-skiing, it would be unlikely that we would be able to operate if the borders remain closed.”