22 June 2020

COVID-19 anxiety overshadows ski season start on both sides of the border

| Dominic Giannini
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Thredbo snow

The ski and snowboard trails are ready ahead of the massive demand for lift passes. Photo: Thredbo Resort Facebook.

The NSW ski season officially started today, but jubilation from skiers has been overshadowed by concerns about Victorians crossing the border as new COVID-19 clusters emerged over the weekend.

Over 100 new cases have been recorded in Victoria since last Wednesday (17 June), sparking fears about a second-wave which could cross the border as holidaymakers travel to NSW ski fields in time for the start of school holidays next week.

“COVID-19 has presented many challenges to communities like the Snowy Mountains, which has had one of the toughest years on record with bushfires and drought,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.

“Thankfully in NSW, we are now at a point where we can safely return to our favourite winter holiday destination.

“While our regional communities are ready to welcome you with open arms, the message remains clear: if you are sick, get tested and do not travel.”

A COVID-19 rapid testing site has been set up in Cooma to help manage clusters and potential outbreaks and enable the early management of any suspected cases, the NSW Government says.

Victorian ski resorts are pushing ahead with plans to reopen for the start of its ski season on Wednesday (24 June) after escaping tightened restrictions in the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews gave the green light to ski resorts despite the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases across Victoria.

Thredbo’s Marketing Manager, Caroline Brauer, said the resort is confident it will be able to maintain community safety through its new COVID safe measures despite the outbreaks in Victoria.

“We are rolling out a revised operating model that has been developed under the advice of the NSW Department of Health including a range of social distancing and sanitisation measures,” she said.

“The news today out of Victoria is a reminder about how important our COVID Safe Operating Plan is for us this winter.

“We are confident that with our comprehensive operating model, together with the fact that only a very small percentage of our visitation is from Victoria, we are well placed to be able to deliver a safe environment for our staff, our guests and our community.”

However, there is some good news if you managed to secure a pass for the start of the ski season. Thredbo has received 16 cm of snow in the last week – including 6 cm in the last 24-hours.

But snow forecaster Pete Taylor from Snowatch said the news is mixed for people heading to the Snowy Mountains for the opening week of the ski season.

“It looks like we will see very little in the way of natural snow falling in the resorts during the next couple of weeks,” he said. “The southern hemisphere is being dominated by strong high-pressure systems that are forcing any potential snow systems to the south under the mainland.

“Opening weekend looks like we might see some snow around the 23rd-24th [June] and fingers crossed this one brings something decent.”

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