News Not all doom and gloom for Victorians. Cinemas, ski fields open for business
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Not all doom and gloom for Victorians. Cinemas, ski fields open for business

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Cinemas and ski fields open just in time for school holiday crowds, with limits. Photo: AAP
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Victorians can finally indulge in some movie magic with a choc-top and bucket of popcorn as cinemas reopened across the state.

Further north, the state’s main ski fields at Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek also opened for business on Monday, with social distancing rules in place and lift passes needing to be pre-purchased at some spots.

In Victoria, movie theatres were to be allowed to seat up to 50 patrons but due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, are limited to 20 people per theatre, also with social distancing measures in place.

In Melbourne, Cinema Nova reopened its doors for a return to its popular “discount Monday” after closing them three months ago on March 23.

Cinema Nova Executive Director Natalie Miller, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Australian filmmaker Kitty Green celebrated in movie style, cutting a film strip to officially open a special breakfast screening of Green’s film The Assistant during a so-called breakfast screening at 9am.

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Ms Miller, Mayor Capp and Green on Monday morning. Photo: AAP

The Carlton icon welcomed back film fans with a full slate of films including classics like The Big Lebowski and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as more recent movies and new releases.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly said while it was disappointing to have the number of people allowed at the movies reduce from 50, reopening with 20 patrons was still something to be excited about.

“We’re just going to roll with the punches and take it in our stride and adapt to it the way that we have with everything else so far,” he said.

Village Cinemas have announced staggered opening dates of its complexes; Hoyts is yet to announce its plan but advises moviegoers to keep a close eye on their social media sites while Reading Cinemas opened on Monday in all states except NSW, where they’re scheduling a July 2 start-up date.

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Strict hygiene measures, social distancing and thorough cleaning of cinemas will be enforced. Photo: AAP

Nova is implementing strict hygiene measures, including social distancing in all cinemas, 20-minute cleans between movie sessions, daily staff temperature checks and hand sanitiser available throughout the venue.

Mr Connolly said more than 800 tickets have already been sold ahead of Nova’s reopening, a fact he said was somewhat surprising, but extremely encouraging.

Cinema Nova is keeping up it’s traditional $10 ticket Monday, which Mr Connolly said was fitting for it’s restart.

“It’s kind of wonderful that our first day back is actually going to be a discount Monday, because people are very keen to return, and it’s wonderful to be able to offer people that opportunity to spend a bit less doing something they enjoy,” he said.

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Skiers are getting excited on Mt Hotham as the start of the ski season gets underway. Photo: Mt Hotham

Meanwhile, the ski season officially kicked off in NSW and Victoria after weeks of delay, but won’t quite business as usual when the mountains opened, with social distancing rules in place and lift passes needing to be pre-purchased at some spots.

Thredbo in NSW and Mount Buller in Victoria started operating ski lifts from Monday, while Perisher and Victoria’s Mount Hotham and Falls Creek will start turning lifts on from Wednesday.

Ski resorts will operate at a reduced capacity and group ski and snowboarding lessons are not permitted, while all accommodation and facilities at the ski fields will have screening and safeguards in place.

The late start to the ski season comes days before school holidays in Victoria and a few weeks ahead of NSW school holidays in what will hopefully give the areas a much-needed tourism boost.

Perisher and Thredbo are forecast to receive only a smattering of snow in the coming days, while Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller can expect a bit more powder than their NSW counterparts.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Monday said in a statement rapid COVID-19 testing will be available for those in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Communities in the Snowy Mountains and those on major roads in and out depend heavily on tourism dollars and I know they will be very appreciative of the business brought in by visitors to the region, but it is imperative that we remember to be COVID safe,” Mr Barilaro said.

“While our regional communities are ready to welcome you with open arms, the message remains clear – if you are sick, get tested and don’t travel.”

-with AAP