(CBS4) — Vail Resorts, operator of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte ski areas in Colorado, and 37 resorts globally, will cease operations for a week beginning Sunday at all its North American mountain resorts and stores, the company’s CEO announced Saturday.

This out of concern for the health of its employees and clientele as health officials encourage individuals and businesses to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

“These are unprecedented, challenging times for everyone,” said Rob Katz in a statement posted Saturday afternoon on the Vail Resorts website. “We will continue to navigate these unchartered (sic) waters with our guests, our employees and our communities remaining our highest priority. I am certain that there have been, and will be, moments where we will miss the mark and potentially disappoint. However, rest assured that we will continue to listen to your feedback – and continue to make the best decisions we can for everyone’s well-being.”

Katz said in the statement that resort officials have been in constant contact with local health officials for guidance. Particular regard was paid to the communities in which the resorts operate, Katz stated.

“We know each decision we make has a broad impact far beyond our operations.”

(credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The move comes at a inopportune time for recreational mountain businesses. Spring break is a notoriously busy time of year for all ski areas, and Colorado’s are no different.

“We sincerely apologize to guests who are currently at our resorts,” Katz added, “and those who were planning to come during this time.”

The mobility of the resort’s clientele, however, may have added to the concern of health officials.

The first presumptive positive test result for coronavirus in Colorado came from a California man who visited Italy prior to lodging and skiing at Keystone and Vail in late February. He visited a hospital in Frisco on March 3rd with symptoms.

Saturday, Eagle County, which includes Vail, has the second-highest number (18) of the state’s presumptive positive tests behind Denver (20). Pitkin County, which includes the Aspen/Snowmass resorts, has only two residents who have tested positive, but nine people from out-of-state who are being treated there.

Katz also stated the the company will review the temporary closure on March 22nd and decide on further course of action.

Following Vail’s announcement, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis released a statement: “Colorado is strong and we will get through this together. The safety and health of our most vulnerable and of our communities is our top priority. I commend Vail Resorts for taking this difficult, responsible step and urge other mountains and resorts to do the same. Coloradans and our business community must continue to rise to meet the demand of these challenging times and everyone must do their part in stopping the spread of this virus.”

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