Two Resorts in Australia Close Due to Covid-19 Spike

Falls Creek and Mt Hotham in Victoria have closed after local restrictions have been put in place and the border with the neighbouring state of New South Wales is shut. Could similar openings and closures happen in Europe next winter?

Five million people in Melbourne and some of the surrounding suburbs are marking their first weekend back in lockdown.

On Saturday Victoria recorded one of its highest daily increases with 216 new cases and one death.

The ski resorts of Falls Creek and Mt Hotham are near to Melbourne and popular with the city’s residents.

“We have made the difficult decision to suspend operations at Hotham and Falls Creek, effective Thursday July 9th through to at least August 19th,” said Vail Resorts, the US company which owns the ski fields.

“We recognise the impact this has on our guests, employees and communities and did not make this decision lightly.”

“We will continue to assess the situation and follow guidelines of the state health authorities in evaluating if it is advisable or feasible to reopen either resort.”

All lift tickets, lessons and rental reservations at Mount Hotham and Falls Creek resorts will be refunded.

Mt Hotham had been open just 4-days and some local businesses believe it may not reopen at all this season due to financial reasons, caused by covid-19.

One local ski hire business said to local media that Vail Resort’s decision was financial rather than based on health.

“They’ve looked at their revenue in America and decided it’s not worth it for us.”

Vail resorts also runs Perisher in New South Wales and that remains open for skiing and snowboarding.

The resorts in Australia have recently opened with covid-19 restrictions in place including limiting the number of people allowed on the slopes with all lift-tickets bought in advance, Australia ski resorts open for winter season.

Other resorts in Victoria remain open including Mt Buller.

“Mt Buller is pleased to confirm continued lift operations beyond 12 July ensuring access to the ski area and lessons on an appropriate scale for as long as conditions permit,” the resort said in a statement.

“This decision has been reached with the well-being and livelihoods of our employees, the community and our guests in mind.

“Remaining open is not an easy decision however we believe it is in the best interests of our community and regional Victorians.

“Health and safety remains paramount as we carefully move forward in accordance with public health guidelines for the alpine industry to support our regional economy and the skiers and snowboarders of Victoria.”

The resorts in Australia have been busy with Mt Hotham having to stop more people arriving as daily limits had been reached.

Mt Hotham, Australia

Mt Hotham, Australia

The city of Melbourne with 5m inhabitants has gone back into lockdown for at least 6 weeks.

When the announcement was made Mt Hotham said people in the resort from Melbourne could stay but could not extend their visit.

“Following the announcement by the Victorian Premier, we can advise that residents from Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire currently holidaying at Mt Hotham can complete their stay and then return home, but cannot extend their holiday,” said the resort in a statement.

We have been reporting on the developments in our rolling blog; Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding.

As resorts in Europe open for summer skiing and snowboarding the fear of a second wave with resorts needing to introduce further restrictions or close is at the forefront of many resorts.

With plans for winter being made it is also a significant concern especially as there are growing concerns of second waves in the autumn or next winter in Europe as immunity or a vaccine seems some way off.

Resorts opening and closing next winter with restrictions being eased and then re-imposed are a real possibility next winter.

The premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has warned that the virus is going to be around “for months and months”.

“Nobody is enjoying being locked at home. It is frustrating, it is challenging, but the strategy will be successful if we all play our part,” he said in a televised address.

The neighbouring state of New South Wales has recorded seven new cases, including a man who visited a pub in Sydney.

The pub has been linked to two other infections.

Last week, New South Wales closed its border with Victoria for the first time in 100 years.