The extension of Sydney’s lockdown has left tourism businesses in New South Wales’ Alpine region dishing out thousands of dollars in refunds over the peak winter school holiday period.
Premier Gladys Berejklian confirmed on Wednesday morning that Sydney’s lockdown has been extended another seven days, until midnight Friday July 16. The extension means stay-at-home orders will be in place for a total of three weeks.
Cameron Barton, owner of Alpine Sports and Reryde Secondhand Snow Gear in Jindabyne, says during the initial two weeks of lockdown he has already refunded more than $20,000 in rental bookings.
“Since the announcement this morning, we’ve started to get a new wave of refund requests for next week,” Barton tells SmartCompany.
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Barton employs 15 staff across the two stores that offer new and used ski gear for sale or for hire.
Like many businesses in the area, Barton was optimistic that the extension of coronavirus restrictions would be for several days rather than a full week.
There are very few Victorian of South Australian customers passing through the stores, and Queenslanders left after the lockdowns in South East Queensland were announced last week, he says.
“We’re really just relying on the ACT and some more local, regional New South Wales travellers.”
Last year, the ski season in Victoria was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, in New Soiuth Wales the season continued albeit at reduced capacity.
“Everyone was on JobKeeper, which helped us get through,” Barton says.
This year, businesses in Jindabyne were geared up for a busy ski season, after travellers hadn’t been able to go overseas or potentially missed out on winter sports last year.
“It certainly looked like we were going to have the biggest season ever,” he says.
The New South Wales government announced a business support package several days after restrictions were first enforced, including grants of up to $10,000. Barton says that while he’s eligible to access that support, it’s “so little it’s barely worth applying for”.
“We would have lost $250,000 in the three weeks of lockdown. $5,000 to $10 000 means absolutely nothing in the scheme of things to us,” he says.
Announcing the extension of the lockdown today, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she doesn’t want to be in a situation where the state is constantly having to move between lockdowns.
“What we want to do is give us our best chance of making sure this is the only lockdown we have until the vast majority of our citizens are vaccinated,” she said.
New South Wales reported 27 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday.