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A sign containing a message from Whistler Resort is seen in Whistler, B.C. Sunday, March 15, 2020. The Whistler Blackcomb resort which is owned by Vail Resorts shut down operations Saturday due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis taking place worldwide. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

LNG Canada is cutting its workforce in half over the next several days on the construction of a new plant in Kitimat, B.C., to help local communities deal with COVID-19.

The company says most of the cuts are being made by reducing the number of workers flying in on rotation but, if necessary, staff could be cut to levels required only to maintain site security and environmental controls.

LNG Canada is a consortium of five global energy companies, including PetroChina and South Korea’s KOGAS, building a $40-billion liquefied natural gas production and export facility.

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The region where the plant is located in northwestern B.C. has not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In a statement on its website, LNG Canada says it is taking the step in an abundance of caution to protect the communities of Kitimat, Terrace and surrounding First Nations.

It says travel by staff and contractors to other countries, including China, South Korea and Italy, has been restricted for the past month.

LNG Canada is building an export facility in Kitimat capable of processing liquefied natural gas from B.C.’s northeast and shipping it to customers in Asia.

“We assure you that together we are taking prudent measures to help reduce the spread of the virus,” the company says on its website.

British Columbia reported 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, including four deaths.

One of the most popular ski resorts in North America is also shutting down in the face of COVID-19 restrictions against large groups and close contact.

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Vail Resorts, the U.S. owner of several ski hills including Whistler-Blackcomb, says the B.C. resort and all its properties are closing for the season, effective immediately.

The announcement came just days after Whistler announced a one-week shutdown to assess the situation.

More than half a dozen other ski resorts across B.C. have also announced closures.

Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, says in a statement that the decision to close Whistler and the company’s other resorts is “evidence of the fast-moving situation involving COVID-19.

“While it is incredibly disappointing for our company to mark the end of the season so early, we know it is the most responsible path forward,” Katz says.

An online form will be posted on the Vail Resorts website Tuesday allowing customers to apply for refunds for pre-purchased lift tickets and equipment, the company statement says.

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