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Vail Resorts delivered some good news on Thursday by announcing the opening of the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead on Friday, July 17 – but at the same time the ski company announced coronavirus was forcing it to shut down two of its Australian ski resorts.
First the good news per a Vail Resorts spokesman:
“Vail Mountain is excited to announce the Eagle Bahn Gondola (Gondola 19) in Lionshead Village will open for summer operations on July 17, 2020. The Eagle Bahn Gondola will transport guests from Lionshead Village to Eagle’s Nest for Scenic Gondola Rides, Grab-n-Go Food and Beverages, Interpretive Hiking, and the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster. The gondola will be open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the Lionshead ticket office opening each day at 9 a.m. Vail Mountain is also planning on offering Bike Haul starting on July 17, 2020 from both Gondola One at Vail Village and the Eagle Bahn Gondola out of Lionshead Village.”
Now the bad news: Falls Creek and Mount Hotham ski areas in Victoria, Australia, are reportedly closing through at least Aug. 19 due to a surge of coronavirus cases in the area.
From 9 News Australia:
“’We have made the difficult decision to suspend operations at Hotham and Falls Creek, effective Thursday July 9 through to at least August 19,’” Vail Resorts, the US company which owns the ski fields, said in a statement.
“’We recognise the impact this has on our guests, employees and communities and did not make this decision lightly.’
“Vail Resorts cited the recent rise in cases of coronavirus and say public health and safety is their key motivator.”
While it’s full-on winter Down Under, Eagle County, Colorado – home to Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas — is in the heat of summer. Still, the county is seeing its own mini-surge of coronavirus cases as the rest of the nation sets new records for COVID-19 infections.
Eagle County has seen 84 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 15 days, including 31 in the last five. Those are numbers the county has not seen since early to mid-April, several weeks after abruptly shutting down chairlifts in mid-March due to the virus, which has killed eight Eagle County residents.
Overall, 5,023 individuals have been tested in Eagle River Valley part of Eagle County, with 747 cases as of Thursday.
National health policy experts say the United States has never beaten back the first wave of the virus, let alone faced a second wave during flu season in the winter.