The Panorama Hotel in Jindabyne should be buzzing at this time of year - and the tills should be ringing with Sydney dollars.
But only two of the 26 rooms were occupied in what was once the height of the snow season. The spectacular restaurant overlooking the Snowy Mountains and Lake Jindabyne is deserted at breakfast when it should be full.
And this is the second year where trade has been knocked for six by the pandemic. Last year, the regulations meant ski resorts were only allowed to operate at half capacity but this year the lockdowns in Melbourne and Sydney have blocked the inflow of trade.
"It's very stressful," owner Shachaya Rajahodi said. "I don't think we can survive. Last year was very, very tight."
She said she cried when the cancellations started coming in. She would beg people to postpone the stay rather than asking for a refund.
In a normal year, 70 to 90 per cent of the area's trade comes from Sydney at the height of the snow season.
The gloomy picture at the hotel is repeated throughout the town which sets its hopes on July and August as the annual money spinners that underwrite survival.
"Restaurants are only half full," Olivier Kapetanakos, President of the Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce, said.
Staff were being laid off, including ski instructors. One looming problem would be if the lockdown were to be relaxed, the staff might not then be there for the end of the season in September. Ski and restaurant staff can't afford to stay in the hope of employment later.
Mr Kapetanakos thinks lockdowns should be much more targeted to minimise disruption to the economy.
He said that the Northern Beaches in Sydney and the Blue Mountains were locked down even without cases of Covid. Visitors from these regions were being kept home unnecessarily, along with their spending.
He feels that the NSW government is oblivious of the needs of the rest of the state outside Sydney, very much including the Snowy Mountains.
"I don't know if people in Sydney are aware there's world outside Sydney."
The police have been tough on Sydneysiders who have tried to dodge the rules to get on the snow.
A family of two adults and two children from western Sydney were fined $2,000 and sent home after travelling to Thredbo.
A skier from Sydney was fined after being caught in the Snowy Mountains.
The police were going through car parks at both Thredbo and Perisher Valley checking where cars were from.
Some people were dobbing in rule-breakers on Crime Stoppers.
The Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce called on the ACT government to include the ski fields in any Canberra Covid bubble which might be set up, saying cutting out the region from the ACT would have a devastating impact on Snowy Mountains businesses.
The ACT government was drawing up plans for a regional bubble to protect the capital from the NSW coronavirus outbreak.
But ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said Canberrans would be unlikely to be allowed to holiday at the snow at Jindabyne, Thredbo or Perisher if restrictions were introduced.
Canberrans account for about 12 per cent of business in winter. "This would further reduce our ability to survive winter," Mr Kapetanakos said.
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