West Kootenay hot springs are slowly reopening with reduced operations as provincial health protocols ease slightly around the COVID-19 crisis.
One of the first to open with limited capacity was Halcyon Hot Springs, which started to accept guests for two-night minimum stays on June 19.
“We made this decision for the minimum stays to help us perform heightened cleaning protocols at the facility,” said Halcyon marketing manager Patrick Spencer.
“It’s also helping to diminish an abundance of people at the hot springs at any given time.”
Halcyon has reduced its pool capacity from around 100 to 30 people and in-house guests are only allowed to visit the hot springs pool from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m during their visit.
Overall, Halcyon is operating at 50-to-60 per cent of its normal capacity.
A contactless check-in is also helping to mitigate the threat of COVID-19, according to Spencer.
“Upon arriving, all guests are being asked to wait in their vehicles for our staff to meet them. A health and safety officer then performs a check to get their temperature and oxygen levels in their blood,” said Spencer.
“Guests also have to fill out a questionnaire asking them if they’ve been outside of the country in the last 14 days and if they’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Once they pass that, staff read them their waiver, check them in and send them to their suite with their room cards.”
Anyone who’s been outside of Canada in the last 14 days or has been ill in that period won’t be able to book a place at Halcyon.
Halcyon’s Kingfisher Restaurant is only offering to order food for guests through room service, which will include pizza and other barbecued food.
Visitors are also being asked to avoid arriving unannounced.
Spencer said guests have been enjoying their experience at Halcyon since it reopened.
“Everyone whose been staying here lately has been saying its amazing. They’re really appreciating having fewer people in the hot springs,” said Spencer. “It’s been very calm, very serene and very relaxing.”
Nakusp Hot Springs also opened its chalet, campground and hot spring pools on June 29.
Manager Noel Ballard said the pool capacity is being reduced from 100 to 25 people when it opens.
The hot spring pool will only be open for camping and chalet guests from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily.
The public will only be able to access the pool from noon to 7 p.m. daily. The pools and chalet rooms will be closed for cleaning from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 7 to 7:30 p.m. daily.
Pool users will be required to sign in for a one-hour time slot for their visit, which includes changing, showering and being in the pool.
Signs about COVID-19 around the hot springs will also inform visitors of new rules and protocols.
Visitors are asked not to visit the hot springs if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, if they have a respiratory illnesses or if they’ve been outside of Canada within the last 14 days.
Ballard said staff are as ready as they’ll ever be to open up the hot springs.
“I think we’re quite organized. We’ve done a lot research to make guidelines and putting all the proper protocols in place,” said Ballard. “While it’s a little challenge with limited capacity, I think the public is informed and understands what’s going on.”