SAM Magazine—Victoria, Australia, Aug. 4, 2020—Vail Resorts (VR) will not reopen lift operations for skiing and snowboarding in 2020 at Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia following the Victorian government’s introduction of Stage 4 restrictions for Melbourne and Stage 3 restrictions for regional Victoria, which will be in place for six weeks.
Stage 4 restrictions involve sheltering at home, with few exceptions. Among these is exercise, which can only take place within 5 km of home, with no more than one other person you live with, and for no more than one hour a day. Stage 3 restrictions are somewhat relaxed, limiting recreation partners to family members or one other person only.
VR had suspended lift operations at the two resorts on July 9 after Melbourne—a primary feeder market for Hotham and Falls Creek—was elevated to Stage 3 and the New South Wales border closed. The resorts had been open for less than a week. The company said at the time that it would assess reopening after Aug. 19, but the latest restrictions implemented by the Australian government aimed at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak there sped the decision-making.
“We made the decision to close Hotham and Falls Creek in early July to support the government’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the health of our employees, guests and community. It was certainly a difficult decision, which unfortunately has been reinforced by the worsening COVID-19 trends and the declaration of a State of Disaster in Victoria until 13 September,” said Pete Brulisauer, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Resorts Australia.
“We are disappointed to mark the end of the season this way and extend our gratitude to our teams and the businesses in the local community who all worked incredibly hard to open this winter. We also want to thank our loyal guests for their patience and understanding; we look forward to welcoming them back to our resorts for the 2021 season,” Brulisauer added.
While lift-served skiing and riding will no longer be offered at Hotham, other activities and services will remain open, according to the resort’s website. These include cross-country skiing, backcountry sled tours, and dogsled tours, as well as several lodging establishments, retail, and food and beverage outlets.
VR's third Australian resort, Perisher, will remain open and is unaffected by this decision, operating in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions in New South Wales.