Ski season starts at the Australian alps after weeks of delay – but it’s far from business as usual with strict COVID-19 restrictions in place
- Ski resorts in New South Wales and Victoria have opened for winter 2020
- COVID-19 restrictions mean ski resorts have been forced to limit ticket sales
- There is also a ban on group skiing and snowboarding lessons
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The ski season has officially kicked off in New South Wales and Victoria after weeks of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But as the slopes and fields opened on Monday it was not quite business as usual, with social distancing rules in place and pre-purchased lift passes required at some locations.
Thredbo in NSW and Mount Buller in Victoria started operating ski lifts on Monday, while Perisher and Victoria’s Mount Hotham and Falls Creek will start turning lifts on from Wednesday.
The ski season has officially kicked off in NSW and Victoria after weeks of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic
Guests play in the snow at Mount Buller, Victoria on Monday June 23
But as the slopes and fields opened on Monday it was not quite business as usual
Ski resorts will operate at a reduced capacity and group ski and snowboarding lessons are not permitted, while all accommodation and facilities at the ski fields will have screening and safeguards in place.
The late start to the ski season comes days before school holidays in Victoria and a few weeks ahead of those in NSW in what tourism operators hope will bring a much-needed boost.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said patrons planning a snow trip this winter should remain vigilant, citing Victoria’s recent rise in coronavirus infections.
‘We cannot assume because of the case numbers in NSW we are through the worst of it, we just don’t know,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
‘We only have to look south of the border, that could be us, if people don’t do the right thing.’
Perisher and Thredbo are forecast to receive only a smattering of snow in the coming days, while Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller can expect a bit more powder than their NSW counterparts.
Guests watch a man snowboarding down the slopes at Mount Buller after its opening on Monday
Ski hire shops and accommodation providers will have increased safety protocols in place to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19
Michelle Taueki and Fletcher McCormack of George’s Ski Hire, clean and sanitise boots prior to them being hired out to the public, on June 23, 2020 at Mount Buller, Australia
The ski season in Australia looks very different this year due to new measures around COVID-19
Jindabyne’s The Shed Ski Hire owner Gary Vaughan said he’s hoping restrictions around the snowfields and resorts further ease from July.
‘A lot of people are calling saying they want to come down but can’t because of restrictions,’ he told AAP.
‘We don’t know what’s going on next week compared to tomorrow.’
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Monday said rapid COVID-19 testing will be available for those in the Snowy Mountains region.
‘Communities in the Snowy Mountains and those on major roads in and out depend heavily on tourism dollars and I know they will be very appreciative of the business brought in by visitors to the region, but it is imperative that we remember to be COVID safe,’ Mr Barilaro said.
‘While our regional communities are ready to welcome you with open arms, the message remains clear – if you are sick, get tested and don’t travel.’
A snowboarder takes a fall on the slopes on the opening day of the ski season
Snow blankets the resort at Mount Buller in Victoria on June 22