Schweitzer CEO says he will shut down operations if guests refuse to wear masks

Schweitzer Early Snow Mountain 2 1574281335877 Jpg 39646184 Ver1 0 1024x576

SANDPOINT, Idaho — The CEO of Schweitzer Mountain Resort said he is willing to shut down the mountain this winter if people refuse to wear masks.

In a Facebook post, Tom Chasse acknowledged that masks have become political in North Idaho, pointing to the Bonner County Sheriff’s refusal to enforce the recently-passed mandate, as well as the Bonner County Commissioners’ discussion about defunding the Panhandle Health District.

RELATED: ‘Cannot enforce the unenforceable’: Bonner Co. Sheriff will not investigate mask mandate violations

READ: Bonner Co. Commissioners must have budget meeting to vote on defunding Panhandle Health

“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.

Governor Brad Little moved Idaho back to Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan after case rates and hospitalization rates began trending upward, but has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate.

Though a mandate is in place across North Idaho, it is largely not enforced, and Chasse said it will be up to guests’ compliance in order to keep the mountain open.

“As we continue to voice our position, a reminder to mask up from everyone would be helpful,” he said.

Chasse said about 90 percent of guests were masked up this past Sunday, noting it was an improvement from opening day.

“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 said. “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.”

He said he has fielded comments from people angry about mask requirements, while others believe the resort has not done enough to enforce COVID protocols, so he has offered anyone with a season pass the opportunity to roll over to next year. Those who wish to do so must make that decision by Friday, December 11.

“We’ll continue to do what we can and hope that all of you will be proactive and encourage everyone to cover up,” Chasse wrote. “Just ask them, ‘Do you want to be the reason we can’t ski/ride all season?’ Like seatbelts, or taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home, it’s a simple request.”

RELATED: Opening dates and how local ski mountains will keep you safe during the pandemic