Dear Members of BSC
Hope you are all well and coping with the unique circumstances.
This is an update of planning efforts towards opening and running our lodges this winter, and opening bookings. Unfortunately we are unable to tell you yet if or when we will open for bookings, or what conditions will look like in the lodge. At this stage we don’t even know whether the resorts will be open for skiing. Like the resorts, we are engaged in planning for various contingencies, in the hope that we will be able to enjoy a ski season in some way.
Your committee has formed two subcommittees to look at what our 2020 ski season might look like and how we could safely make it work. Both subcommittees are meeting weekly with much work in between meetings.
The lodge operations committee is being chaired by our new VP Management Greg Wicks. Greg has landed right in the middle of this crisis and is leading from the front. This club has a terrific tradition of people stepping up, we are very grateful.
Our President James is chairing the booking rules subcommittee that will look at how the booking rules may need change to suit the current situation and the effect on lodge operations.
Ultimately we will have to work within the constraints and laws laid down by the NSW and Federal Governments and their agencies. This is a moving feast and the information and direction changes almost daily. For this reason it is not possible to release or adopt any new policies until a clearer picture emerges. We can however work through scenarios to make sure we are as prepared as possible to react quickly in the members best interests.
The latest information seems to point to a ski season of some sort albeit in a limited and reduced way, all the while observing fundamental principals of hygiene and social distancing. There are a number of relevant articles in the Snowy Mountains Magazine at https://snowymagazine.com.au, with several new articles appearing there in the past couple of days on prospects for the ski season and related issues.
The combined NSW resorts submitted their plan to open the resorts while dealing with Covid 19 to the NSW Department of Health on Tuesday 19 May. We don’t know any details however we know that Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass have been working together on the proposal and are very keen to operate in some way.
Many of you will have received a letter from Perisher yesterday concerning your Epic pass. Of note is mention of further information to be sent on 15 June, with options for a refund of your pass or moving forward with a new pass product. It will be quite instructive to learn what features the new pass product has. Thredbo has announced that there will be no snow sports or traditional opening weekend events over the long weekend of 5-8 June and said “We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to offer skiing and snowboarding this winter and are hoping to announce an Opening Date as soon as possible.”
The lockdown restrictions have been reduced this weekend, however the travel ban for other than essential business or health treatment still stands. Holidaying in regional areas is still not allowed.
The next few weeks will be extremely interesting, as restrictions ease it is officially expected that infection rates will increase. How much the infection rate rises and how well our health systems cope will impact hugely on the opening of the 2020 ski season.
In forming the subcommittees, the committee has looked beyond itself and called on members with relevant expertise and experience to join us in the policy formulation.
Jenny Hartican and Kellie Meehan have both worked as our lodge managers for years and have see close up the full range of behaviour from members and guests in the lodges.
Admin Manager Mark Green is very familiar with our bookings process and interactions with members. Warwick Forster also has this experience, with several years as Admin Manager prior to Mark.
Mike Bromfield led the effort to write the bookings and lodge operations procedures while he was Business Planning Officer, then went on to be responsible for managing both processes for four years as VP Management before serving four years as President. Both procedures have served the club superbly with only minor revisions for well over a decade.
Gary Buffinton has qualifications in biochemistry with research in parasitic diseases, influenza infection and inflammation and gastrointestinal inflammation; then worked as a toxicologist in the Department of Health. He was also involved in the National Incident Room including the 2009 influenza pandemic event and has experience in incident management planning, training and leadership (CFU/ACT Fire & Rescue).
Paul Sayers has experience in pandemic and disaster planning, development, implementation, and responses to natural disasters and contagious events when he was at the Department of Health National Incident Room. Paul was the initial organiser for the pandemic training exercise Cumptson in 2006, heavily involved in the 2009 swine influenza pandemic and was the manager of the National Incident Room upon his retirement. He also served as the Guthega Lodge Manager for six years.
Simon Bass is a thoracic physician at South East Regional Hospital, Bega and is involved in the local planning of responses to covid 19.
Richard Radajewski is a General Practitioner and is our current VP Kyilla.
Paul, Gary, Simon and Richard have put a lot of effort into drafting an illness policy and associated changes to the cancellation policy. At the core of the policies is a generous refund policy for medical cancellations and a strict cleaning and social distancing regime. The third tenet of the policy is a strict directive not to come to the lodge if you are ill or have been exposed to someone in the last two weeks who has tested positive to Covid 19 or if you have recently returned from overseas. Your inclusion on the final trip list will likely depend upon your response to a medical questionnaire.
While nothing has been decided it seems more and more clear that considerably reducing the capacity of the lodges is the only way to maintain the required social distancing space per person and total group size limits.
Members are strongly encouraged to install the Covid App on their phone as another means of improving safety and contact tracking.
Temperature checks on arrival at the lodges are part of the new policy. You will need to bring your own pillows and linen, as well as all food and pantry supplies. We will likely have no communal pantry supplies, no welcome drinks and no sharing of leftovers this season.
Rostered time in the kitchen / dining areas and allocation of your bathroom in Kyilla to specified room numbers is all on the table.
Unfortunately gastronomic extravaganzas and group catering may be a thing of the past. The new normal may be frozen meals in and out of the kitchen dining area in your allocated time with a thorough clean of the kitchen dining before and after your meal.
Cleaning your bathroom on arrival and departure will be the new normal. Common toilets in Waragun and Tiobunga may have to close.
As a club we have a duty of care to our employees and lodge managers and an equal and implied obligation to our members and their guests.
We will update you as we improve our understanding of how we will be able to operate this season.
The Committee of Brindabella Ski Club