Mt Buller in Australia Closes Bringing the Ski Season to an Early End in Victoria

As cases of covid-19 continue to rise with further restrictions introduced by the authorities the resort has been told to close its lifts.

The other main resorts of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek have already closed but Mt Buller remained open, Two ski resorts in Australia to close for rest of the season

Now it has bowed to the inevitable with lockdown re-imposed in nearby Melbourne several weeks ago and further restrictions introduced across the state.

Local businesses were told that increased coronavirus restrictions meant visitors would not be permitted on the mountain and all lifts would immediately be shut.

“That’s all folks… for now! The Vic Gov has advised all Victorian alpine resorts are to close to visitors as part of stage 3 restrictions,” said the resort on social media.

“While the lifts will be closed for now we hope everyone stays safe and healthy, do the right thing, and fingers crossed we get to see you in September for the GREATEST spring skiing session of all time! 2020 owes us that much at least! “

Cross country skiing is still allowed.

It follows bumper snow falls in recent days.

There have been numerous local rumours of people from Melbourne defying the restrictions and  heading to the resort.

A member of staff at the resort tested positive for covid-19 on July 23rd but otherwise there have been no known cases.

The closure is a body blow to the already beleaguered tourist industry in Victoria.

The Victorian Tourism Industry Council reports a 95% to 98% loss in revenue due to the pandemic.

“We’re going to be living in this kind world for a couple of years, the industry is well aware of this and engaging them in a pathway out would give them something to work towards,” said the chief executive of the Council, Felicia Mariani.

The ski resorts of Perisher and Thredbo in neighbouring New South Wales remain open.

They too have seen recent heavy snowfall.

Here at PlanetSKI we have been watching the picture in Australia closely as it will give an indication of how things may look next winter in the northern hemisphere.

Lets hope we don’t have the experience of Victoria, but it remains a distinct possibility.

Earlier this week the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, gave his assessement as the resorts of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek in Victoria, run by Vail Resorts, announced they would remain closed for the rest of the season:

PlanetSKI Analysis, James Cove:

PlanetSKI in Perisher, Australia

PlanetSKI in Perisher, Australia. Image © PlanetSKI.

In the end it was inevitable.

Covid-19 is surging in the state of Victoria, restrictions will continue for many more weeks and are likely be tightened. The cost of  running a resort is hugely expensive and in the end the numbers did not add up with the facts clear to see.

Now is not the time for wishful thinking, but rather dealing in reality and likely outcomes.

The threat of Covid-19 spreading, and the economic realities, simply made the situation untenable.

The mighty Vail Resorts, the biggest resort operator in the world, does not take these decisions lightly and it is an ominous sign of what might be in store next winter in the northern hemisphere if coronavirus remains present with an effective vaccine not developed and widely administered.

Here at PlanetSKI we have been watching the scene in Australia very closely since the season began.

Covid-19 is no respecter of borders, countries or ski resorts  – it is a virus whose purpose is to spread.

The restrictions, threat and resorts’ reactions may well be similar in Europe and North America next winter.

Vail Resorts also runs Perisher in the neighbouring Australian state of New South Wales and it remains open.

Skiing and snowboarding continues with many having a fabulous time on the slopes.

Restrictions are in place but riding continues, albeit with a 50% reduced capacity.

Rob Katz, the CEO of Vail Resorts, has told Wall Street analysts about the insight that would be gathered from the southern hemisphere to how things may look for the season of 2020/21 in the northern hemisphere.

Some of the main changes at Perisher include:

• People must stay approximately 5 feet away from others.

• People who live together may take lifts together, while others must practice social  distancing.

• One person is allowed on a chairlift designed for three people or on one that normally holds two people. Two people are allowed on chairlifts that are designed for four people. Three people are allowed on an eight-person one. The lift queues will be redesigned for physical distancing.

• Cash is not accepted and all payments must be made by card.

• Food and drink – Skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to bring their own food and sit outside. There is some take-away service.

• Hotels, lodges and apartments are operating with reduced capacity to ensure that physical distancing can be achieved in restaurants and common areas.

So, what we have learned so far from Australia is that if a resort like Perisher remains relatively free from a surge in cases then skiing continues, albeit differently.

If a resort is in an area under threat from Covid-19 or sees outbreaks in the resort or surrounding areas, such as Mt Hotham and Falls Creek, then they close.

We will remain watching the Australian experience closely and keep our fingers crossed that the scene in Europe and North America will be more like the Perisher experience than elsewhere in Australia.

Skiing in Australia

Skiing in Australia. Image © PlanetSKI.