KITCHENER -- Ski hills are usually busy this time of year, but downhill skiing isn't allowed during Ontario's province-wide shutdown.

Hundreds of staff were laid off with little notice ahead of the lockdown.

Bill Creighton, the CEO of Chicopee Ski Hill, said he'd like to see downhill skiing allowed under the lockdown.

"What we don't understand is, as an outdoor recreational facility, why we wouldn't be on the list with tobogganing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skating, those sorts of things," he said.

Ski hill operators across Ontario said they were originally told they could continue operating, even under grey lockdown measures, and planned accordingly.

"We have $1 million into the operation already this year with staff training, their time, then production, ski lift inspections, making snow," Creighton said.

"The ski industry believed that's how we were going to be treated this winter like the rest of the country, until, I believe it was Dec. 23, the regulations came out excluding ski areas from being able to operate," said Time Oliver, general manager of Beaver Valley Ski Club.

The club opened Dec. 11 and closed Dec. 25.

"We laid off approximately 200 people on Christmas Day," Oliver said. "It was a terrible, terrible experience."

Creighton said Chicopee didn't have a chance to open their gates before rules changed. He laid off 600 employee.

Oliver and Creighton said they want to slow the spread of COVID-19, but added they believe skiing is a safe and distanced activity, especially since people typically already wear gloves and face coverings.