Pandemic Disrupts Ski Season Down Under
29th June 2021
Last modified on July 3rd, 2021
Ski areas in Australia and New Zealand are being hit by the effects of Covid-19 for a second winter. The wider Sydney region has gone into full lockdown for two weeks, putting the local New South Wales resorts out of bounds for residents. And New Zealand has paused its quarantine-free travel bubble with Oz. UPDATED
Both countries had been considered to have done well managing the pandemic with their closed-border policies.
Numbers of cases had been kept low.
But a recent surge in infections in the Sydney area and other parts of Australia, combined with low vaccination rates, is now causing growing concern.
The Delta variant is reported to be spreading fast.
According to the BBC, officials in Sydney say the virus is infecting 100% of household contacts when it’s brought into a home.
Just under 5% of the adult population in Australia is fully vaccinated, while 29% have had a first dose.
Restrictions are in place across four states while four cities are now in lockdown: Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin.
On Sunday the New South Wales state government extended its stay-at-home order to cover all of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong.
The news came just before the New South Wales school winter break.
Skiers and snowboarders planning to travel from the lockdown area to resorts such as Perisher or Thredbo have had to cancel their trips.
Those already there have been forced to self-isolate if they were in the lockdown area any time from the 21st June.
The ski state of Victoria and its capital, Melbourne, are not affected by the latest restrictions.
People living in Melbourne had been under a stay-at-home order earlier in the month but it was lifted on 24th June, giving access to skiing in resorts like Mt Hotham, Mt Buller and Falls Creek.
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The Australian outbreaks are also having an impact on the ski fields of New Zealand which are heavily reliant on visitors from Australia.
They are being hit by mass cancellations.
About three quarters of all international visitors to its slopes are from Australia.
New Zealand, which has kept its borders closed to most of the world throughout the pandemic, opened up quarantine-free to Australia in April.
It has now put a halt to that because of the situation across the Tasman Sea.
The government has said the pause on travel between the two countries will continue until at least 6th July.
It’s come as a huge disappointment to NZ Ski which operates the three South Island ski areas of Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables.
“We’re gutted to see the pause in quarantine free travel,” the Chief Executive of NZ Ski, Paul Anderson, told RNZ after the announcement.
“We had some very strong bookings from New South Wales for next week, the week starting 28th of June. So it’s the first week of their school holidays.
“And then the following week starting the 5th of July, our bookings were near capacity. So we’re seeing mass cancellations coming in now.”
To add to the frustration for those unable to get there, the snow has been dumping down at The Remarkables.
This was the scene on Monday 28th June….
It’s still early days, of course, in the southern hemisphere winter.
Some resorts haven’t even opened yet and the season usually extends until well into October.
So there’s plenty of potential skiing and snowboarding to be had in the 2021 season, Covid-19 willing.