Victorian ski season freezes over as Mt Hotham and Falls Creek resorts suspend operations

Victorian ski season freezes over as Mt Hotham and Falls Creek resorts suspend operations

COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria and border closures to the State have forced the operator of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek ski resorts to suspend operations, just over two weeks after the season commenced.

Vail Resorts, the company that operates ski-lifting operations at Falls Creek and Hotham Ski Resorts says it made the tough decision to close after assessing the new COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

Ski-lifting operations at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham will be suspended effective today until at least 19 August, consistent with current Victorian stay at home directions.

Vail Resorts says it will continue to assess the situation and will follow state health authority guidelines in evaluating if it is advisable of feasible to reopen.

"We did not make this decision lightly as we know our employees, guests and the communities where we operate have already endured so much hardship this year," says Vail Resorts senior vice president and COO Pete Brulisauer.

"However, we are focused first and foremost on health and safety, following local health guidelines and doing our part to support efforts across Victoria to address the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

"We recognise this is incredibly disappointing to our guests and pass holders, including those who have made reservations at Hotham and Falls Creek this season. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this incredibly challenging time."

Perisher, also operated by Vail Resorts, is unaffected by this decision and will remain open in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions in NSW.

All reservations for lift tickets, ski and ride lessons and rental bookings will be cancelled and fully refunded. Guests will be contacted with information on processing refunds and have been asked by Vail Resorts to refrain from contacting the call centres at this time.

The news comes as Victoria has announced a $534 million support package, including a $40 million capped fund for regional tourism, in the wake of reimposed COVID-19 restrictions.

The package also includes $5,000 grants to businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19, and around 80,000 eligible businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million will be able to defer their payroll tax liabilities for the first half of FY21.

Updated at 1:06pm AEST on 10 July 2020.

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