By Steve Cuff
WE have recently received one of the biggest early May snowfalls, followed up by more precipitation last weekend which has snow enthusiasts genuinely excited of the 2020 season ahead.
In any other year you would have already been scrambling for the phone to book your holiday expecting it to be a bumper snow season.
But…. This is no normal year by any stretch of the imagination.
So where does the winter season stand at present, will it go ahead, in what capacity, and what can we expect with the COVID19 restrictions?
Snowy Mountains Magazine has been in contact today with the NSW Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro who confirmed that behind the scenes NSW Government have been talking with the NSW resorts as to how this snow season could progress.
“Understandably there is a lot of concern in the community about COVID-19 and the ongoing impact it is having on our communities who have had to adapt to a fast-changing situation,” said Mr Barilaro.
“There is no doubt our regions are doing it tough with the drought, the bushfires and now the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. The annual snow season provides so many benefits for our local communities and I know how tough this year has already been on the community.”
“We need to come up with a solution that is in the best interest of locals, while keeping in line with health advice so we don’t put our community at risk. The health and well-being of our community is paramount.”
“I am in contact with local ski resorts, businesses, health officials and the local police on what the next steps will be. We are working hard on the best way forward.”
Thredbo Resort looking like winter in May. Photo Thredbo Resort.
While that all sounds somewhat promising, the NSW Government would need to address some of their policy and wording on number gatherings for the season to proceed. But there is time for this to happen, and we are only just starting to loosen the shackles. Patience is key here……
Rest assured though, that this will not be a normal season and there will be restrictions in place at the resorts to control numbers. You would also have to expect commercial hotels and club lodges in the snow would have to also apply restrictions as their square meterage to guest ratio is not as big as premises outside of the alpine area.
There is already word that some smaller club lodges will not open, either due to the costs associated or their limited size premises. It would just not be feasible.
How these restrictions would be implemented is anyone’s guess at the moment, but you could imagine the resorts and the National Parks would have multiple spread sheets in operation at the one time to look at all scenarios.
Add to the equation that all businesses also need to inform staff of their work status, sooner rather than later, so they can organise staff accommodation for the winter.
Snow all the way to Thredbo village left the resort blanketed in snow in May. Photo Thredbo Resort.
Today Tourism Snowy Mountains also issued an update stating while it is great to see restrictions beginning to ease this coming Friday, May 15, there are still no specifics on when recreational travel will reopen but it is looking promising for the near future.
“The ski resorts are continuing to work together developing COVIDSafe Operating plans for their unique operations to ensure they are ready and safe to open for the 2020 season,” said Luke Kneller, Executive Officer Tourism Snowy Mountains.
“They are actively working and communicating with all levels of Government, Police and health professionals to show they are able and ready to operate this winter, keeping the health and safety of all residents, staff and visitors a top priority.”
“The Resorts have received valuable feedback from Governments that in order for the NSW resorts to open for the season, the whole tourism economy in our region needs to have COVIDSafe Operating plans in place.
“We all know that guests not only visit resorts but many local small businesses on their trip to and from the Snowy Mountains. It is important that we as a community and region are ready to operate in a COVIDSafe manner.”
Tourism Snowy Mountains along with Snowy Monaro Regional Council and all local Chambers of Commerce will be working together and towards a COVIDSafe region to give the 2020 winter snow season the best chance possible.
“The Safe Work Australia website is the best place to go at the moment for all the latest information and guidance on what a COVIDSafe workplace looks like. They have industry specific information including hospitality.”
As a community here in the Snowy Mountains, we all understand that the economy desperately needs the snow season to progress. On the other hand, no one wants to put themselves or other residents at risk. We are also not naive to think we can fully handle an extra medical emergency of COVID19 breaking out here in the mountains.
That is why the Federal Government have been strenuously urging everyone to download the COVIDSafe App and really start thinking about how we can all help the cause, not just for the snow season here.
Continue with social distancing, abide by the current rules and do our best to fight back at the virus.
For businesses, they can start now to best prepare for winter and can find more details on the website to adjust their business.
Government Health Resources
The next two to three weeks we hope to see the COVID19 numbers stay steady and stabilise if we are to have any hope of a snow season.
It is a near given the snow season will not start in June, so we hope to see you on the slopes in July.
How much snow? Enough that warranted the big snow blower in early May. Photo Perisher.
Be careful where you park when the snow arrives. Photo Luke Downey.