Chris Bishop has worked just about every winter weekend for the past 42 years.

However, the owner of Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride has had 17 weekends off during COVID lockdowns.

That’s about to end with the Haliburton County ski hill poised to reopen Feb. 17.

“Very strange,” Bishop said of the year that’s been, adding he’s excited about the reopening but also very conscious about what is going on in the world with the pandemic.

He said they’ve done everything asked of them in terms of public health and safety protocols and now it’s up to customers to respect the rules to keep everyone safe and healthy to have an enjoyable skiing or snowboarding experience for the remainder of the winter.

The Eagle Lake ski hill has been making snow, on top of Mother Nature’s base, to extend the season well into April and recoup a bit of the financial losses that began in March 2020. As it stands now, their usual 80-day season has likely been slashed in half. On Dec. 26, 2020, they had to lay off 90 staff.

Bishop said some of the federal relief efforts, such as wage subsidies and business loans, have helped but “financially, it’s terrible,” not just for Sir Sam’s but all Ontario ski resorts.

Since finding out the resort is reopening, Bishop said they’d had a lot of calls but the recording pretty much tells people everything they need to know. He said the public is anxious to get back on the slopes.

“For some people it’s a real passion, whether curling, snowmobiling, crosscountry skiing. It’s a passion. If you can’t do it, you have pent up frustration.”

Due to protocols, they will be limiting the number of people on site; people have to wear face coverings when in public spaces, such as in lift lines, on the lift, and in the chalet. There is one designated door to access the restrooms and numbers are monitored. There is limited capacity in the upstairs of the chalet for food and drinks just like at any restaurant, with six feet distancing and the wearing of masks when moving around. There are sanitation stations at every door. Staff are wearing PPE.

Bishop said, “We’re doing everything we can. We ask people to respect the rules and follow them.”

See sirsams.com for more.

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