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Chairs up the Warm Springs side of Baldy stand idle this week as all lift-served skiing has stopped to limit exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Sun Valley’s ski lifts sat still on Monday, hours after the resort decided to cease mountain operations nearly a month ahead of schedule to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The resort announced the impending closures on Sunday—a change of course from Saturday’s announced Easter closure—giving skiers and riders a short-notice closing day on Baldy and Dollar.

The decision, though, followed Saturday’s news of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Blaine County. Two more local cases have been confirmed since, according to the South Central Public Health District. By the time of the Sun Valley announcement, Vail Resorts and the Alterra Mountain Company—the industry’s two biggest players—had already suspended seasons at their North American properties. So had nearby mountains, including Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee in Wyoming, and Big Sky in Montana.

On Saturday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered all ski resorts in his state to halt chairs over fears of the pandemic.

The closures include all on-mountain amenities. In Sun Valley itself, the village will remain open, including restaurants as of press time on Tuesday. Lodging will continue to operate with “limited service,” Sun Valley and Snowbasin Resort CEO Bruce Fery said in a statement. Lift tickets, rentals or lessons bought online for March 16 or later will be refunded automatically within 14 days, according to the company.

The move puts on-hill workers out of jobs earlier than ever. As of press time on Tuesday, the resort did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Idaho Mountain Express on the status of its employees.

“We recognize that this decision will have a significant impact on our employees,” Fery said in his initial statement on Sunday. “They are truly the heart of our operations and the reason our resorts are such a valued part of our communities. We are working closely to accommodate their needs during this time of uncertainty and transition and will communicate and coordinate with employees over the coming days.”

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

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