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Riding out the pandemic

The Australian snow industry is in crisis. The summer of 2020 saw horrendous bush fires throughout south-east Australia which forced the evacuation of Jindabyne and left many other alpine villages with little to no business. Then, in March, COVID-19 swept across the world just as these towns were gearing up for winter to recoup their losses.

For a while, there was no certainty that snow resorts would even be allowed to open after the first wave of Coronavirus. Still, they were eventually given the go-ahead with a few restrictions – including lifts at 50% capacity.

Unfortunately, after the Melbourne outbreak of the virus, Victorian resorts were forced to shut the lifts down for the season. However, Jindabyne businesses were able to continue with restrictions, meaning foot traffic was significantly down. Then, to make matters worse, Australia had the worst winter in terms of snow depth it has in a decade. In the last three years at Perisher, there’s been a peak snow depth of around 90 inches. In 2020, it peaked at 20 inches.

To top it all off, when the Government constructed payment packages to help small businesses, they alienated a large percentage of those working in alpine towns. With the majority of businesses hiring seasonal or casual workers, not many qualified for Government help, leaving many industry owners even more out of pocket.

NowUC’s James Herring sat down with Joey from E.S.S. Board Store in Jindabyne to find out how COVID-19 has affected him and the store.

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