While the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (6-8 June) traditionally marks the opening of the snow season, skiers and boarders will have to wait a little longer to hit the slopes this year with the alpine region to open from Monday 22 June.
The NSW Government made the announcement today, Thursday 28 May, with the decision allowing the ski resorts time to implement appropriate health and safety measures.
NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, said while many people are eager to return to the slopes, “It is important that visitors can enjoy themselves safely and responsibly”.
“The NSW Government, through NSW Health and NSW Police, is working closely with ski field operators, associated businesses, suppliers and industry associations to ensure COVIDsafe measures are in place when the season commences,” Mr Barilaro said.
“These measures will mean that fewer people will be able to visit and stay at resorts this season, so it is essential that people book and confirm their travel arrangements and accommodation before they travel.”
Some of the measures in place include maintaining physical distancing at resorts, limits to the number of people on ski areas, controlled access to ski lifts, increased cleaning of all facilities and no snowplay.
Mr Barilaro also reminded holidaymakers that “most importantly, if you do feel unwell, postpone your trip”.
The Australian Ski Areas Association welcomed the announcement. CEO, Colin Hackworth, said while the NSW resorts are “disappointed” to miss the traditional opening of the snow season on the June long weekend, “operators are looking forward to the season ahead and busily preparing for the safe opening of the resorts from 22 June”.
One resort looking forward to welcoming visitors from 22 June is Thredbo. Marketing Manager, Caroline Brauer, said the news is particularly welcome for the entire Snowy Mountains region after the summer of bushfires and now COVID-19, and acknowledged the season will look a little different this year.
“Thredbo will be rolling out a revised operating model that includes daily capacity limits by up to 50% on usual capacity at this stage, as well as a range of social distancing and sanitisation measures.
“We will be asking all our guests to be patient while we navigate through the season and play their part in respecting social distancing requirements.
“We’re really excited to get the season underway, and we’re particularly looking forward to opening our new Merritts Gondola, which will become Australia’s only alpine gondola, plus the enhanced ‘Dream Run’ experience and a new carpark at Friday Flat.”
A number of COVIDsafe measures will be in place on the NSW ski fields as well as accommodation, dining and other recreational facilities, with details to be listed on ski resort websites soon.
The Mt Selwyn resort will remain closed during the season due to bushfire damage.