It is being reported that ski areas in New Zealand will be allowed to operate this winter, as the government prepares to shift the country to Alert Level 2 pandemic restrictions.
New Zealand is currently operating under Alert Level 3 – “Restrict”. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has recently announced their intentions to soon move to Alert Level 2 – “Reduce”, outlining what this would look like for life in New Zealand.
Under Level 2 measures, hairdressers, shops, bars and cafes can re-open and people will be able to travel domestically. Some sporting events will also be able to resume, but without crowds, as mass gatherings will be limited to under 100 people.
However, when asked in a press briefing about the impact of these regulations on ski fields in New Zealand, Ardern stated that there would “obviously be a different set of circumstances”.
Indeed, official guidance states that:
“Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, contact tracing, and – where practical – physical distancing.”
So while it looks like ski resorts may open, operations will certainly be different to normal, with increased social distancing measures in place.
A final decision will be made on May 11 as to exactly when the Alert Level will shift from 3 to 2, though it is expected to be some time that week. Until then, resorts are understandably apprehensive to announce any specific details on how exactly they will operate for the 2020 season, but other ski areas around the world are likely to be looking at the measures taken by NZ ski resorts to inform their own operations going forward.
International tourism will not be likely in this time, so ski fields will have to rely on domestic tourism. However, the news that there will be skiing this year is sure to be enough to put a smile on the face of any ski lover in New Zealand.