Updated: Sep 24, 2020
Last month, we wrote about Australia's plans to open ski resorts safely. Details were sparse, but expected procedures seemed similar to those implemented by U.S. resorts that had re-opened for the end of the season (reservations required, fewer people per chair, etc).
*UPDATE* On July 9, Vail Resorts suspended operations at Hotham and Falls Creek from July 9 until at least August 19 due to state Covid-19 restrictions and the closure of the NSW border. These two resorts had only been open for 3 days (since July 6) because of unfavorable snow conditions. All reservations for lessons, rentals and lift tickets will be fully refunded. Guests with unused Epic Passes may request a refund through July 12. Perisher remains open. Read Vail's full announcement here.
Here is a breakdown of regulations at Australian Ski Resorts:
1) Resorts are open at 50% of normal capacity.
2) Reservations for season pass holders are required and booking early is strongly encouraged.
3) Advance purchase of lift tickets will be required for guests without a season pass. Resorts will hold 10% of visits for guests without season passes.
4) Food and beverage is takeaway only with limited indoor seating (50% capacity).
5) Lift capacity has been limited to the following*:
One person per single, double, or triple chair
Two people per quad chair
Three people per 8-pack chair
Two people per gondola cabin (Thredbo)
*Those in the same household may ride a lift together at the chair's normal capacity
6) Lessons and activities are limited. Thredbo is only offering private lessons. The Vail resorts are offering private lessons and group lessons at limited capacity. All lessons must be booked in advance, online.
7) Equipment rental is available with restrictions. Thredbo requires all equipment rentals to be booked online. Clothing rentals (jackets, pants) are not currently available. Vail resorts are offering full equipment rental services with additional sanitization and management procedures in place.
8) "Snowplay" (sledding, snowballs, etc.) is prohibited by the Australian government.
9) Travel restrictions from areas with hotspots. All resorts are currently prohibiting guests from Melbourne, where the virus has recently spiked.
For a full breakdown of Vail Resorts procedures this season, click here.
To see Thredbo's procedures, click here.
It is encouraging to see that Australian resorts are committed to operating while maintaining a safe environment for their employees and guests. This could provide insight into what winter will look like in the U.S.
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