Despite tourists being advised to avoid the snow over these coming weeks as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, there has been a surge of tourists heading to the snow and skiing on the unpatrolled front slopes, as well as backcountry.
Ski field operators and the Snowy Monaro Council are do not know if the 2020 season will go ahead, and tourists have been encouraged to avoid the region unless they own property in the area.
“You may have seen that people have been warned not to come up to the mountains, and the reason for that is we don’t want a situation where the virus does spread this early in the year, and then to have the government definitely shut down the snow fields,” Snowy Monaro councillor Brian Old said.
“We had a fair rush over the weekend, a lot of people went up there. And even though there isn’t really any new cases coming out of Canberra, we’re all still just worried about the potential for a second wave scenario, you know? People coming down that don’t actually realise that they have it (COVID-19) and spreading it further.”
Officials have warned skiing on unpatrolled fields is a risk, especially in a small town. Jindabyne’s nearest hospital in Cooma is a 45 minute drive away.
“Our medical facilities here in Jindabyne don’t really have the capacity to deal with any ICU situations, whether that be from corona or people injuring themselves up there,” Clr Old said.
Locals said the influx of tourism this past weekend seemed like the beginning of a normal season.
“We were seeing heaps of ACT number plates, not really what you want to be seeing considering the circumstances. Heaps of people in the town centre gearing up to go see the snow,” Jindabyne local Tom Harrigan said.
A source who asked to be unnamed, said police officers were handing out warnings to anyone but locals who were caught on their way up the hill.