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CEO: Schweitzer may close if skiers don't mask up

| December 5, 2020 11:35 AM

Schweitzer Mountain Resorts's president and CEO said if skiers don't start wearing masks in required areas to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, he may close the entire operation temporarily.

"If we cannot get this under control, I’m willing to shut down the entire operation until we’re able to open additional lifts and terrain," wrote Tom Chasse in a Thursday post on the resort's Facebook page.

He said he was in the lift line on Sunday and believed about 90% of their guests were masked up, which he called a huge improvement from opening weekend.

"That being said, we don’t have enough staff to be in all places at all times. It’s unrealistic to staff every bathroom, every lift line and every indoor space to remind guests to mask up," Chasse wrote.

He said the resort is making progress as it adapts to Gov. Brad Little's rollback to Stage 2 and the Panhandle Health District mask mandate, "but we still have work to do."

Schweitzer requires masks in its lift lines.

"We created a narrow point of entry with appropriate signage and we staffed these areas with our executive team till mid-day on the weekends. Additionally, we have our mountain host team working the lift lines in an effort to remind everyone of our expectations," he wrote.

Chasse pointed to others who have "not shown the same support."

Bonner County commissioners considered a proclamation to defund PHD, he wrote. The Bonner County sheriff has said he will not enforce the mask mandate.

"The conflicting messages in our community create challenges for us and we can only do so much to get everyone on the same page in order to keep our operation going all winter long," Chasse wrote.

He said he has fielded many comments related to its COVID operational processes.

"Some are angry that we would even consider enforcing mask wearing while others believe that we’ve done very little enforcement," he wrote. "It’s obvious we can’t make everyone happy with our COVID response."

For those uncomfortable with Schweiter's current practices on dealing with COVID, Chasse said he will roll their season pass to next year as long as they let the resort know by Dec. 11.

"The decision is yours," he wrote.

His remarks received support of at least one person.

"Perfectly stated Tom — thank you!," wrote Amy Grimsrud Anderson. "We all need to do our part in a big way in order to get through this winter. I appreciate your leadership and efforts to protect your employees, community, and customers. Very impressive message Schweitzer!"