FRANCE HOLDS OUT AND REMAINS OPEN FOR SKIING
14th March 2020
Last modified on March 25th, 2020
Many thousands of people are heading out to the resorts over the weekend. It is unsure if they will get a full week and may have to come home early. If so it will be a logistical nightmare, not to say a massive health problem threatening lives and health care systems. PlanetSKI reports.
“We find it somewhat baffling that the resorts in France continue to remain open,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.
“We were living in Italy and saw the spread and its results first hand. It is not a pretty sight and it is getting worse.”
“Our guess is that the resorts will inevitably close and probably fairly soon.”
All the ski resorts are now closed in Italy, Austria Switzerland, Andorra and Norway due to the coronavirus crisis.
They have acted on government and medical advice.
Resorts are closed in the Sweden, the Spanish Pyrenees and elsewhere.
France though remains open for skiing and snowboarding.
Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic with more cases now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.
The head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing were needed to save lives.
“Do not just let this fire burn,” he said.
Italy has recorded its highest daily death toll.
There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.
Spain, the worst-affected European country after Italy, reported a 50% jump in fatalities to 120 on Friday.
Infections increased to 4,231.
France has now confirmed 2,876 cases and 79 deaths, up from a total of 61 deaths on Thursday.
We are a snowsports webs site, so we report on the closures and impact.
See here for our recent rolling blog on the closures:
And we followed the developments across Friday 13th, in this later rolling blog:
Today, Saturday 14th, we are continuing our rolling blog of all that is happening.
First the current state in France
“To nip in the bud the rumours that are rife in the Chamonix Valley at the moment, we are delighted to confirm that all our lifts, ski areas & tourist sites, continue to offer service as normal & will continue to do so until further notice unless there are new governmental directives to the contrary.”
“The resort of La Plagne is open, snowy and maintains the welcome of its customers….To date, there is no restriction on opening the ski area….Ski schools maintain lessons for all age groups.”
“Tignes is doing everything possible remain open whilst adhering to the safety instructions given by the French government. At this time, there are no plans for a closure and the resort, which combines the Tignes and Val d’Isère skiing domains, will remain open until the 3rd May 2020.
“Tignes is prepared to adapt its position should the situation evolve and new safety instructions are given by the government.”
“Still 6 more weeks to enjoy our snow, the governmental decisions are not impacting our activities.”
One of our readers has just sent us this photo on departure from Mayrhofen in Austria.
While on lockdown what else is there to do for the Italians…
Here’s the latest from Swiss Info:
· The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland tops 1,100 as of March 14. There have been 11 deaths. Most of the victims had previous medical conditions and most were aged over 70.
· The government imposed sweeping measures on March 13, including closing schools across the country until at least April 4 (some cantons have longer closures until April 30), banning public gatherings of more than 100 people, limiting access to restaurants, bars and discos to a maximum of 50 people and pledging CHF10 billion to help the economy.
· The border with Italy will remain open but further restrictions will be applied. Also border controls with other European countries have been tightened with a suspension of the single border agreement.
· For the first time, the Swiss army will deploy a hospital battalion on March 16 to support other civilian hospitals; it can welcome 200 patients.
· The focus has now shifted to protecting the old and unwell. The health authorities are gradually changing the reporting system and no longer trace every Covid-19 case systematically.
For the full details see here
One of PlanetSKI’s very good friends who lives in Innsbruck has just been to the airport as the holidaymakers head home.
“The return of the guests in the Tirol runs smoothly and hope they all get home safely.
“From Monday life in Tirol and Austria will be different at least for a period of time, but we will stay together and get through it.”
Latest from St Anton:
At 3 p.m. there is a shuttle bus from the #WestTerminal to the Landeck train station, allowing foreign guests with a valid Guest Exit Form to leave the resort.
All foreign guests, who are not in quarantine, MUST leave without exception by the end of Monday, 16.03.2020
UK SKI CENTRE CLOSES
Kidsgrove Ski Centre in North Satffordshire has shut until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have taken this decision because many of our volunteers are in the vulnerable group and we have a duty of care, it said in a statement.”
There are a series measures now in place and being introduced in Austria.
All its ski resorts were shut yesterday (see below for our rolling blog for all the details as it happened).
Reports say the Austrian government has just called for ANYONE who was in St Anton or Ischgl since the 28th of February to self-isolate.
We will check further details and update on this shortly.
‘Non-essential’ shops in country will close on with cafes and restaurants shutting at 15.00.
Travel: Rail links re suspended and there are strict controls on its border with Italy.
People should have medical certificates.
Air links with France, Spain and Switzerland are also suspended.
“The Austrian government calls on every person to do their bit to combat the spread of the Coronavirus,” it said in a statement.
“This means reducing social contact to a minimum. Young people in particular are strongly encouraged follow these protective measures in order to protect older members of society”.
Here is the official advice from the Tirol
Austria flagVERBIER BARS TO CLOSE
This from The Loft, one of our favourite watering holes in the Swiss resort:
“Just to let everyone know that despite the Federal mandate allowing bars to remain open with less than 50 pax, the good state of Valais has trumped their decree by closing all bars until the 30th of April.
“The loft bar is now closed until this changes.”
CORONAVIRUS IN US SKI RESORTS
Two resorts on the East Coast have reportedly closed , with other resorts across the United States taking action.
The trams, or cable cars, have been shut at Snowbird in Utah and Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
People with cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Crystal Mountain, Vail and Keystone.
Events including concerts and sports have been called off.
PlanetSKI is looking a what is happening and will be reporting in full later.
LEAVING ST ANTON & HEADING HOME
Our reader and reporter, George Eykyn, continues his journey out of St Anton and back to the UK:
“Police and mil checkpoint to exit resort, exit papers inspected, change of bus, and going to Innsbruck via Arlberg Tunnel ie prescribed route. Another checkpoint awaits us at airport.”
MOUNT EVEREST CLOSES
Nepal has announced that it is suspending climbing permits for Mount Everest due to the coronavirus crisis.
China stopped offering permits earlier this week.
This from the BBC:
More imported cases in China than local infections
For the first time China is reporting that it has more new cases of the virus brought from outside the country, than infections passed on locally.
The data released by China’s National Health Commission shows that the country had 11 new cases on Friday, four of which were locally transmitted in Hubei province where the new coronavirus began.
The other seven cases are in travellers from Italy, the US and Saudi Arabia.
PlanetSKI reader/reporter leaves St Anton
“Leaving St Anton now. Minibus to edge of quarantine zone, then hopefully another bus to Innsbruck airport.”
Ex-BBC reporter, George Eykyn, has been reporting for us from the Austrian resort.
EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT FROM ST ANTON AS IT GOES INTO LOCKDOWN
Skiers have been dumping their hire skis & boots in a rush to get out of town.
The Austrian government has locked down St Anton and resorts in the Paznaun Valley, including Ischgl, for 14 days with immediate effect (see our earlier Facbeook post).
“Some chaos here with some lifts arbitrarily shutting and when I asked I was told ‘the valley is closed’,”PlanetSKI reader George Eykyn in St Anton told us.
“Weird atmosphere. Locals and workers in St Anton were said to be taken by surprise as lifts and pistes were shut early and without warning.”
George has been told by his hotel that guests will be able to leave St Anton as planned but locals will be quarantined.
All resorts in Graubünden have to close immediately, not on Monday, the canton decided.