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PLANETSKI’S ROLLING BLOG ON THE CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON SKIING CONTINUES…

It’s another day in these unprecedented times for everyone. Pretty much all the ski resorts in the world are closed as the coronavirus takes hold. Here we keep you updated with the facts – no hype & no spin. The PlanetSKI team reports.

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Things have been moving so fast that we have a special rolling report of all the latest developments over on our main social media platform:

It is the place to go for the latest news as it happens.

We reproduce some of it here with additional information, pictures and further analysis.

SUNDAY 22nd 

SNOW+ROCK TO CLOSE

Coronavirus Information

The health and safety of our in-store experts and customers is our top priority, so in line with government advice regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), all of our stores will temporarily close from 1pm on Monday 23rd March 2020.

We’re always open online, so in the meantime, you can still shop our new season range, many of our items are available for next day delivery.

Please keep visiting this page for the latest information.

At times like these, the well-being of our customers, staff and partners is more important than ever.

In line with government advice regarding COVID-19, we’re committed to doing everything we can to keep everyone who works and shops with us safe, whilst still supporting them to get outside as much as possible.

Our Head Office teams are working from home, but for the moment, our stores remain open with experts on hand to help customers enjoy the outdoors in a sustainable and safe way.

Although we are minimising physical contact, increasing hygiene measures and enhancing daily cleaning routines, our passion and knowledge for what we do remains the same, if not more in these difficult times.

All we ask is that you help protect yourselves and others by joining us in these increased hygiene and safety measures.

If you’re unable to get to one of our stores or would prefer to shop from the comfort of your home, our website is trading as usual but with an enhanced service, aiming to deliver orders next day.

Our logistic provider will be restricting physical contact for your safety and theirs.

Our warehouse and customer service teams are working around the clock to keep things moving and prevent any delay to orders, but please bear with us as the situation develops and more measures are introduced to help protect our businesses and communities.

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at enquiries@snowandrock.com.

We believe that people are happier outside, something which holds true now more than ever.

We encourage everyone to stay safe, support one another and do your best to spend what time you can outdoors in a responsible way.

We’ll be staying in touch with any updates or changes but most importantly, will continue to inspire and prepare you to get out there safely, whenever, wherever and however you can.

Snow + Rock

Snow + Rock

GOOD POINT, WELL MADE

UPHILL SKIING CONTINUES IN SOME US SKI RESORTS

All the resorts are closed but some are allowing people to skin uphill and into the backcountry – at their own risk.

“Uphilling is allowed on the ski area at any time, but it’s entirely at people’s own risk,” said Tucker Vest Burton from the resort.

Whitefish Mountain Resort, in Montana, is also allowing it for 14-days after the main lifts closed.

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Mountain Resort

It is taking place at Stow and Smugglers Notch in Vermont.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have taken a different position.

“We understand that people are eager to get out on the slopes, but no uphill travel is allowed at Squaw or Alpine,” the resort posted on Instagram.

“Avalanche danger in the Sierra is currently rated high, and avalanche control and other safety measures involving grooming machine travel will still be ongoing at the resort during the closure. Even when avalanche danger subsides, our ski areas are closed to guests until such time as we reopen, be it this season or next.”

This view mirrors France in the Alps where the police are patrolling in some parts of the Alps as they feel any accidents would distract the authorities from the task of fighting and dealing with coronavirus.

Skiers in France told to stay off the mountains

ASPEN HANDS OUT FREE FOOD

Aspen Skiing Co has given out the food from its restaurants to Skico staff and locals after the resort closed due to coronavirus.

Packaged food and pre-cooked meals were distributed.

One restaurant, Bumps in Buttermilk, started handing out food at 10AM and it was all gone within 50-minutes.

Bumps Restaurant

Bumps Restaurant

SATURDAY 21st 

PEOPLE URGED NOT TO FLEE TO THE HIGHLANDS IN SCOTLAND

Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, has said people should not make the Highlands their means of isolation.

People with second homes of camper vans have been travelling there in the past days.

Ms Forbes, who represents the constituency of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

“If you live elsewhere, please don’t use the Highlands as your means of self-isolation,” she said in a tweet.

“People live here who are trying to follow government guidance and the continuing flow of campervans and other traffic who appear to be escaping the cities is not helping.”

Nicola Sturgeon also warned that the number of Covid-19 cases was “set to rise sharply”.

She urged people to follow social distancing advice to save lives and reduce pressure on the NHS.

At the same time skiing is continuing for another day on Sunday at Cairgorm and Glenshee.

See this related story:

All 5 Scottish ski areas have announced they are closing but 2 continue for 1 more day

The Highlands, Scotland

The Highlands, Scotland

SOLUTIONS 4 FEET

Covid- 19 update

We have taken to difficult decision to close the doors at Solutions 4 Feet from end of day today until further notice.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make as a small business, but with the nature of the work we do it is not possible to socially distance ourselves as we work so the sensible thing to do is to shut up shop for a while.

We have contacted by phone and left messages for, every customer who had an appointment booked with us informing them that we are unable to fulfil their appointments at this time.

I will be still answering e mails and working on the website behind the scenes, and all staff are being kept on.
Should you have any queries please contact us via the website www.solutions4feet.com

There are a small number of customers who have equipment with us which has been having adjustments made, please contact us by e mail and we will arrange a time for someone to be here for you to collect

Hopefully this situation will not last too long and we will be back dealing with your ski boot and orthotic insole needs very shortly.

Until then please stay safe, stay at home (and wash your hands!! )

Colin Martin
Director Solutions 4 feet

Solutions 4 Feet

Solutions 4 Feet

BENS BUS

THANK YOU!!!

Now we have run our last bus to help get people home, I can say my thank yous.

Firstly, to my amazing staff. You stood up and were counted when we needed you most. I don’t like using the word ‘family’ in companies – it makes me cringe – but that’s what it felt like.

You all rallied round and made it happen. I know our customers are grateful for your efforts.

A special mention has to go to my Operations Manager Nathalie Thomson who was formidable and awesome in her tireless efforts and skills.

None of what we did would have been possible without her.

To our coach company partners and their drivers.

It has been a pleasure to work with you all over the years and this past week showed the true value of our partnerships.

Thank you for all your efforts.

Lastly, to the vast majority of our customers for remaining civil, patient and understanding in these difficult times.

We hope we repaid you with the service and help you deserve.

As a thank you, we are making it as easy as possible for those eligible for refunds to apply for them.

We’ll be contacting you all over the next few days pointing you to this page of our site which tells you what you need to do, and we’ll make sure you get your money back, minus some small admin fees, as quickly as possible.

For the moment this page is only valid for transfers to / from Grenoble and Lyon Airports but we’ll be getting information up for Geneva Airport customers as soon as we can:

Refunds Coronavirus

Once again, Thank you and Stay Safe!!

Bens Bus

Bens Bus

EUROTUNNEL “SOLD OUT”

One of our regular readers who lives in the French Alps is trying to return to his home in Wales.

All spaces for cars on the Eurotunnel appear to be sold out until April 16th as returning UK nationals try to get home.

However this is just if you try to book online – it is possible to make a telephone booking.

Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel

EUROTUNNEL ADVICE:

COVID-19
Travel from the UK to France:
Our passenger shuttle services continue to operate. Please check carefully before travelling to Folkestone, as you may be turned away by the French Authorities if you don’t have good reason to travel within France. They have advised us that they will only allow travel for the following reasons:

  • Going home to a main residence
  • Essential work in France
  • Medical staff

NO HOLIDAYS OR SOCIAL VISITS

There are now restrictions on all movements within France that mean people are only allowed to be on the roads if they have completed this form and have it with them. This page explains the circumstances under which people are allowed to travel within France.

There are limited shops and cafes available in the UK terminal building.

Travel from France to the UK:

Our passenger shuttle services continue to operate but the shops and cafés in our terminal building in France have had to close due to new French regulations. There are no current restrictions by the authorities on travel from France to the UK.

Shuttles:
Our shuttles are operating, and customers are required not to leave their cars to comply with “social distancing” advice from both Governments. Please note that we are advising all customers to use toilet facilities on our terminals before travel, as they are no longer available on the shuttles.

Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel

The Snowzones in Castleford and Milton Keynes have closed.

All 5 indoor snow centres in the UK are now shut after the government closed gyms and leisure centres.

“Following the Government’s announcement Snozone and Skizone will be closing until further notice.”

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our guests and team are of paramount importance to us and we thank you for your understanding and continued support.”

See more here: UK Snow Centres to close

Snowzone

Snowzone

HOPE FROM NORWAY

The Norwegian ski resort of Geilo is closed along with all the other ski resorts in the country.

But it is keeping its slope lights on as “a sign of defiance and the symbol of hope for a better and stronger future for all”.

“We will beat this together,” it says.

We salute you Geilo (and it’s also a fabulous ski resort).

Geilo, Norway

Geilo, Norway

SKI INDEPENDENCE UPDATE:

Ski Independence

Ski Independence

THIS FROM SWISS INFO ABOUT ENTRY INTO SWITZERLAND

  • Who can still enter the country?
  • Who is being turned away?
  • What do you do if you have a flight booked to Switzerland next week?

An overview of the latest border situation:

The Swiss government earlier this week introduced wide-ranging checks at land borders with surrounding Austria, France, and Germany, after previously having done so last week with Italy.

Only Swiss citizens, Swiss residents, those entering the country for professional reasons (e.g., those who work here and have a permit to prove it), and those transiting through, can enter.

Even foreign partners of Swiss citizens, who do not have a right of residence in the country, will be turned away.

On Wednesday, the restrictions were ramped up again: travellers arriving by air from the four neighbouring countries are now also unwelcome, as are people coming from Spain, along with those from outside the Schengen visa-free area.

What has this meant concretely?

On the roads, it has meant a significant drop in the number of people entering the country; by up to 70% compared to a month ago, according to figures given on Thursday by the Federal Customs Administration (FCA).

This number is even higher for the Italian border with canton Ticino, which was the first to introduce checks and start closing some posts.

But it has not led to a situation of deserted frontiers.

In many places, it has been the opposite, at least initially. Long traffic jams due to the checks meant that some cross-border workers coming from France were taking several hours to complete a journey normally done in 45 minutes.

In the southwestern canton of Geneva, where some 60% of nurses are French, a new system of car stickers was quickly introduced for those working in the health, emergency services or policing sectors.

These workers were then funnelled into priority lanes – a “green lane” system which is now being rolled out at all border crossings, says FCA head Christian Bock.

The Tribune de Genève newspaper, meanwhile, reported from some border points that while some people were being turned back for not having the proper residence or work papers – including in cross-border trams – most people were simply experiencing delays, and most were understanding about it.

On Thursday, Bock confirmed that 11,000 people have been turned back since the closures came into force. Several attempts had also been made to break through the border, he said, mostly in the northwest region, but none were successful.

Finally, according to the FCA, some 130 border postings have been closed completely as of Thursday – often smaller postings, shut down in order to facilitate the work of border guards by channelling traffic through fewer, but bigger, crossing points.

What’s happening at airports?

At airports, the situation has been described as strangely calm, what with cancelled flights, closed shops and entry restrictions disrupting the normal rhythms of international travel.

Swiss International Airlines has reported grounding 24 of its planes at a military airfield outside Zurich, since they’re not being used.

One trade union has called for the complete closure of Geneva airport.

That said, on Thursday morning, plenty of flights were still announced as having landed at Zurich airport, including from Rome, Paris, Frankfurt, and Madrid. However, according to the restrictions introduced the previous evening, anyone on flights from such destinations who is not a Swiss citizen or resident, coming for work or transiting through would not be allowed into the country, “except in a situation of absolute necessity”.

What happens to those not meeting the entry requirements?

The government writes that authorities at airports would be “introducing measures” to enforce the new rules, but didn’t specify further.

A Zurich airport police spokesperson told swissinfo.ch on Thursday that the “normal procedures” apply – that is, papers are checked, and somebody denied entry will be accompanied to a transfer desk, with the responsibility for covering the return flight falling on the airline involved.

However, no statistics were available on how many such cases had occurred thus far.

What about those with travel plans to Switzerland?

In sum, unless you are Swiss or live in Switzerland, the places from which you can now fly into the Alpine nation have shrunk to the 26 Schengen Area countries, minus Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

If you do fly from one of these countries, you should make sure you’ll be able to get back there again, since many nations have introduced their own restrictions, and quarantine requirements, on who can enter, and from where.

As for Swiss citizens or residents coming home from other countries with high rates of positive coronavirus cases, quarantine is currently not being enforced.

The Federal Office of Public Health writes in its Covid-19 overviewexternal link that “there is now a risk of becoming infected with the new coronavirus in almost all parts of the world. As of 9 March we will therefore no longer be referring to ‘affected areas’.”

The foreign ministry, meanwhile, has called on Swiss citizens currently travelling abroad to try and come back as soon as possible, since mounting cancellations and border closures can lead to tricky diplomatic situations, such as that in Morocco earlier this week (now resolved).

It is not known how many Swiss tourists are still stuck abroad, or searching for routes home.

Some 15,000 are registered on the foreign ministry’s Itineris platform, an online registration for citizens travelling abroad.

Finally, under the Swiss Abroad Act, the foreign ministry has reiterated several times that nationals abroad cannot claim the right to an organised departure from a crisis area.

The ministry and its embassies will provide citizens abroad with assistance in crisis situations as much as they can, it says.

But no mass repatriation is in the works.

Swiss flag

Swiss flag

FRIDAY 20th 

LOCKDOWN IN TIGNES

We have been sent this video anonymously by a reader in the resort.

Tignes as you have never seen it before.

Tignes in the French Alps during the coronavirus lockdown

TIGNES IN THE LOCKDOWN – A BIRD'S EYE VIEWWe've been sent this drone footage anonymously. We are told it was shot on Thursday morning, 19th March. It shows an eerily quiet resort…..

Posted by PlanetSKI.eu on Friday, 20 March 2020

PLEA FROM A DOCTOR IN VERBIER

1) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stay home. We are noticing that there is clearly a cell of infection in Verbier. The only way to stop its spread is for everyone to stay away from each other as much as possible, and for everyone to stay home as much as possible.

Young, old, EVERYONE. PLEASE.

As the doc who’s gonna take care of you, I’m begging you to respect this! I know it’s hard. Please do it.

2) The OFSP guidelines for how to do self-isolation and self-quarantine have been updated as of today. (1) If you feel sick, (2) if you have confirmed COVID, or (3) if you live with someone who feels sick or has COVID, you need to stay home for 10 days AND at least 48h after symptoms have resolved. “Feels sick” means any flu, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath symptoms! You do not need a fever AND cough to have COVID. I have personally tested several in the past few days who have come back positive with minor symptoms (for example, a little bit of cough but no fever).

3) Once you have read #2, it will bring you back to #1 and you will realize that YOU and YOUR HOUSEHOLD NEED TO STAY HOME

4) We are still only testing those at high risk for falling ill, those who are severely ill, and those who are in health care

5) If you’re wondering if you should call your doctor, get tested, etc, please go to coronacheck.ch and a personalized survey will guide you through based on the latest guidelines.

See the guidelines here

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

EU CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR AND CO-PRESIDENT OF 1992 WINTER OLYMPICS TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

69-year old Michael Barnier was the Co-President of the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympic Games Organising Committee.

He is though perhaps better known as the chief Brexit negotiator of the European Union.

Barnier tests positive

Barnier tests positive

He worked with Jean-Claude Killy for the Albertville Games.

Killy went on to be head of the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commissions for the Turin 2006 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Barnier moved into politics and was appointed to the French Cabinet a year later.

HOTEL IN SCOTTISH SKI TOWN FIRES WORKERS AND ASKS THEM TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY

We have been made aware that the Aviemore Coylumbridge hotel near the ski resort of Cairngorn is laying off workers.

And throwing them out of their accommodation with immediate effect.

“I was working the morning shift, and one of the managers gave me the letter and told me sorry but I’m fired, and I have to go immediately,” said one member of staff.

He had reportedly worked there for 2-years.

We leave you to draw your own conclusions about Britannia Hotels and how it treats its staff.

We will never, ever stay there again.

And we suggest you might like to consider following the same course of action.

We wonder how Mr Johnston reflects on his course of action and how he signed it off.

The casual signature perhaps tells its own story.

Laying off letter

Laying off letter

A Spaniard said he had been working at the Coylumbridge Aviemore Hotel for the past two years and now said he has to go and sleep in a tent.

He said he wants to fly to his home country of Spain, where coronavirus is rife.

But said he feels fearful it may be extremely difficult to do so due to international travel restrictions brought on by the global pandemic.

He said around a dozen people at the hotel were also told they were fired today.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be contacting the hotel soonest to ask about their actions.

The local paper, the Press and Journal, is also on the case.

The hotel refused to comment when called by the Press and Journal but it has been seeking reaction.

SNP Badenoch and Strathspey councillor Muriel Cockburn: “They have treated the staff in the most despicable manner and it depicts these human beings as being disposable.

“We’re in a pandemic situation, and these people are being put at risk.

“If this was a stray animal it would be rescued. These are people. As a society we have a duty of care.”

More to follow…

GATWICK CUTS JOBS

Around 200 staff employed on temporary fixed-term contracts and contractors have lost their jobs at the airport.

The executive team is taking a 20% salary cut and waiving any bonus for the current financial year.

“We are consulting with employees on further measures to reduce near term operating costs by exploring the potential to introduce options for unpaid leave or temporary salary reductions for staff,” said a statement from the airport.

“The spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the global aviation industry with our airline partners – including easyJet, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and TUI – reporting significantly reduced levels of traffic and substantial cuts in their capacity over the next two months,” it said.

“As such, Gatwick Airport has taken necessary and appropriate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of the business – and prepare it for a quick recovery – by significantly reducing costs.”

Planes grounded

Planes grounded

This from snow-camp:

Dear Snow-Camp community,

We just wanted to let you all know that in the light of the COVID-19 situation, we have sadly had to postpone the remainder of Excel and Apprenticeship Programmes currently being delivered across the country.

The health and safety of our young people, staff and partners is our priority during this challenging time.

We are proud of our young people and how hard they have worked on our programmes over the last few months.

They have started to work towards new qualifications and learnt new techniques on the slopes, while continuing to develop their life-skills.

Some have been enjoying work placements and many were looking forward to their first trip to the mountains as part of their instructor training.

Despite this necessary pause in our direct programme delivery, all of our young people, youth projects and partners have been informed that we are still 100% committed to running the remainder our programmes as soon as it is viable to do so.

And in the meantime, we are making sure we can continue to provide our young people with the support they need over the coming weeks, using a variety of options:

• Our Programme Managers are organising weekly group video calls so that our young people can still feel connected to each other and to Snow-Camp.

• Qualification coursework is being made available online for the young people to work on at home, with support from Programme Managers as needed.

• Programme Managers are exploring other innovative ways to deliver parts of the programmes remotely, including webinars, making instructional short films and using other online learning techniques.

• We are directing young people to our new Support for Young People online hub, which is being regularly updated with new resources and advice

• Our mental health counsellor, Kevin Hempstead, is offering online 1-1 counselling sessions to any young person that needs them.

During these difficult times it’s important that we all pull together, work together and do all we can for those who are most vulnerable.

Stay safe, be kind and thank you for your ongoing support to our work.

Team Snow-Camp x

Snow-camp

Snow-camp

THURSDAY 19th

ELLIS BRIGHAM CLOSES SOME STORES

STATEMENT:

We are right here with you.

Our children and grandchildren go to local schools; our sisters and partners work in the local hospitals and communities.

We share the apprehension and uncertainty that this period is bringing and our thoughts are with all those impacted by the current situation.

Our business was established before WW2, so we’ve experienced the toughest times before, and we know that coming together to support each other is the best way to get through this.

That is why during this period we wanted to let you know that we are doing all we can to help support our staff and customers.

Our London stores will temporarily close this evening and we anticipate more closures at the end of tomorrow but our amazing team are still active behind the scenes to keep our website fully operational.

Our staff remain available to help with any orders or to talk to you about your recent expedition or your plans for your next outdoor adventure!

Thank you for your support and please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Ellis, Robert & Mark Brigham

Ellis Brigham

Ellis Brigham

BREAKING NEWS:

British nationals who are not showing symptoms of the coronavirus are advised to leave Norway immediately.

Advice to British in ski resorts of Norway and rest of country

Advice to British in ski resorts of Norway and rest of country

More to follow….

THIS FROM ERNA LOW

“We are dealing with all our clients case by case, initially to make sure we could get guests who had travelled out on 14 March home and then moving on to future bookings, where they can, asking people to claim on their insurance now the FCO has advised against all travel,” said Jane Bolton, Managing Director of Erna Low Ski Holidays.

And regarding next winter season 2020-2021 Jane adds:

“On a positive note, many of our regular clients are asking if they can to defer to 2021 which we would be delighted to help them do. We are willing to take options on ski holidays (apartment bookings of all sizes) for 2020-2021 ski season with very low, or no deposits to help skiers out and get them back to the Alps next winter.”

Erna Low

Erna Low

⚠️⚠️ ALL TIROL UNDER QUARANTINE ⚠️⚠️

The decision has been made for all Tirolean towns and villages to go into quarantine and this means:

You can only leave the village if you need to see a doctor or to work.

But only go to the next town if there is no supermarket, bank, pharmacy or doctor in your own.

Commuting to work can also continue across municipal boundaries.

The movement of goods is permitted under certain conditions.

More to follow…

Tirol, Austria

Tirol under lockdown

UPDATE FROM THE TIROL….

Latest information published on Thursday 19th March

• Entering and leaving Tirol is only permitted in exceptional circumstances. This applies to all border crossings as well as to Innsbruck Airport and all public transport.

The borders with Italy, Switzerland and Germany are closed. Please note that these restrictions do not apply to holidaymakers travelling home, people travelling to and from work as well as the transport of goods.

• In Tirol there are as of 19 March 2020, 08:00 a.m. 474 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus.

• On Sunday, 15 March 2020 the regional authorities introduced restrictions on the movement of people in Tirol.

• All ski resorts in Tirol have closed. This decree issued by the authorities will remain in place until at least 13 April 2020.

• Accommodation providers (hotels, apartments, private rooms, etc.) are closed to guests from 16 March 2020 (24:00). This decree issued by the authorities will remain in place until at least 13 April 2020.

• The municipalities of Galtür, Ischgl, See and Kappl in the Paznaun Valley as well as the municipality of St. Anton am Arlberg have been under isolation since 13 March 2020.

• A range of decrees issued by the Austrian government at national level and Tirolean government at regional level are causing significant restrictions to daily life.

These comprehensive measures, which will result in the winter season finishing early, have been agreed in close cooperation with the authorities and the tourism industry. The health and safety of the local population, staff and guests from around the world is our number one priority.

Under which circumstances can I leave my home?

Since Sunday, 15 March 2020 restrictions on the movement of people have been in place in Tirol. According to the decree issued by the regional authorities, people are only permitted to leave their homes if they have a good reason for doing so. There are, however, exceptions:

• People are allowed to leave their homes for work reasons, to receive medical treatment, to satisfy basic needs, to return home and if they have justified reasons for leaving Tirol.

• People are allowed to go food shopping, visit the pharmacy, withdraw money from cash machines, visit the doctor or take their dog for a walk.

• People are allowed to travel to and from work. However, wherever possible people should work from home.

• People are allowed to visit older people and minors as well as people with special physical needs and disabilities.

• It is also permitted for people to go shopping and carry out tasks for other people who are not able to leave their home or should not do so due to their age.

• The police are entitled to stop people and cars in order to carry out checks and ensure that these new measures are being adhered to.

• This measure was introduced on Sunday, 15 March 2020 and will remain in place for at least a week.

THIS FROM MAISON SPORT

An early end to what had been a brilliant winter.

Slightly earlier than expected, but the 2019/20 season has come to a close.

To our hard-working, loyal independent ski and snowboard instructors, thank you for providing an amazing service and we will see you in November.

Help for self-employed instructors…

During these difficult times, it is important that we help those around us.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings many struggles and concerns to all of us, however the self-employed and freelancers are some of the worst hit from a financial perspective in the short term.

Independent ski and snowboard instructors are self employed and generally earn the majority of their yearly income during the winter months when the resorts are open.

With the early closure of the ski resorts across the globe, many instructors have just lost 20 to 25% of their earnings for the year. As I’m sure you can imagine, this will hit them and their families hard.

We’re hoping governments will announce new measures to help the self-employed through the coming months.

Thanks for all your help and we wish you, your family and friends all the best at this challenging time.

Maison Sport

Maison Sport

WEDNESDAY 18TH

THE SKI FAMILY MUST STAND TOGETHER DURING THIS ‘UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION AND EXTRAORDINARY TIMES’: FIS PRESIDENT

The President of the International Ski Federation, Gian Franco Kasper, has issued a statement on the coronavirus crisis. Here’s an edited version:

“The 2019-2020 FIS World Cup season has officially come to a close and I think we can all agree that is was certainly not the way we had envisioned ending the season.

“While we all adapt to the new norm with unprecedented measures, regulations and restrictions imposed globally, we can say that we had luck in an unlucky situation.

“While there are many serious implications for FIS, the member National Associations, Organisers and all stakeholders, as well as winter tourism, we should remain thankful that that the main global impact of the Coronavirus only struck the FIS competition circuits in late February.

“Fortunately we were able to manage the situation together with the Organisers and National Associations and get the athletes and teams back to their respective homes safely before major restrictions were imposed.

“Of course, behind every silver lining, there is a dark cloud and there are many consequences for many stakeholders that will be felt both short-term and long-term, some of which we may not yet be fully able to imagine.

“There are certainly deep financial consequences, but also the uncertainty for the sporting industry is sure to be a serious topic in the near future.

“But one thing is certain – we the ski family must stand together in the upcoming months to support one another, in order to ensure that our sport and industry gets back up to full strength as quickly as possible, to try to minimise the consequences of the Coronavirus as efficiently as we can……

“We are all dealing with an unprecedented situation and extraordinary times. This is not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for every community, including our ski family, to rise above the adversity. Until we are all on the slopes again, stay safe, stay healthy and be good to one another.”

Gian Franco Kasper, FIS President

Gian Franco Kasper

This from the British Association of Snowsports Instructors, BASI.

Dear Members,

Firstly, we wanted to thank you all for your patience.

It’s taken us a few days to work out how best to respond to this crisis.

After analysing the situation and taking the time to consult stakeholders across 7 countries in 2 continents, we’re happy to confirm that if members had their course cancelled, they can transfer their payment to another course or have their money back as a refund.

If you’d like to transfer your payment to another course, we have some courses available to book now and we’ll be adding more over the coming weeks.

We ask that if you choose this approach, you use this transferred payment by the end of May 2021. If you’d prefer to have your money back, just contact the office and we’ll sort it out.

Apologies it took us a while to work it out.

This situation will have a huge impact upon BASI, we’ve had to cancel over 140 courses, meaning as the situation unfolded rapidly we had to make several tactical decisions to try and keep offering courses but at the same time continue to protect our members health & safety.

We learned through our insurance brokers yesterday that insurance companies, like everyone, are doing everything they can to mitigate their losses and taking a very hard line on what triggers a policy payout.

The only thing which will activate the policy payout is the FCO issuing a strict “do not travel” warning.

The FCO updated their website with an Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice today, so many members may find themselves with some of the protection they need, so we continue to recommend that members pursue their insurance for travel & accommodation losses.

You will hear and see the word “unprecedented” a lot over the next few months, but it is true.

We’ll be in touch again soon.

In the meantime, stay safe and keep looking after each other.

British Association of Snowsport Instructors

British Association of Snowsport Instructors

HELISKIER TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS IN CANADA

Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing that operates in Revelstoke has confirmed a guest has tested positive for COVID-19.
Its heliskiing operation has closed down.

The person was skiing on a private group package said a statement from the company.

The company said they received notification from the client on March 16th of the positive results.

The person had been on a trip March 8th – 11th.
Three guides and one pilot are now in self-quarantine with no symptoms.

Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing plans to remain closed for the rest of the season.

Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing

Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing

EASYJET LAUNCHES WINTER SALE

Easyjet at Geneva Airport

EasyJet flights on sale for next winter

The airline has launched it early with more than 5 million seats are now on sale for flights between 25 October 2020 and 28 February 2021 at £29.99 one way, including taxes and charges.

“We’ve taken the decision to put our flights for the winter season on sale today in order to support customers as much as possible during this time,” said the easyJet chief commercial officer, Robert Carey.

“Customers are also able to change their existing plans should they need to, or book a new break, with the reassurance that a change fee will not be applied.”

All easyJet customers are now able to change the dates of their upcoming flights to any time before February 2021.

The change fee waiver applies to both existing and new bookings until further notice.

The offer is open to midnight on March 24th .

ALL 50 STATES IN USA HAVE CASES OF CORONAVIRUS

The ski state of West Virginia has reported its first case of the infection.

The state has 5 ski areas.

See here for our rolling blog on how the virus has affected snowsports in North America:

108 people have died in the USA with more than 6,300 confirmed cases.

Globally, there are about 200,000 cases and nearly 8,000 people have died.

STATEMENT FROM AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR

“Austria is currently in a difficult situation.

I would therefore like to thank all of the people who are growing and doing great things in our country.

Thanks a lot to …

… All people who work in the health sector and are currently under particular pressure.
… all employees in the food trade, pharmacies and drug stores and all companies that are still open so that the supply of people in the country continues to function.
… all Swiss Post employees and logistics companies.
… the farmers who make a large contribution to the food supply.
… the teaching staff and all staff in kindergartens and crèches for the care of those children whose parents cannot stay at home.
… all civil servants, especially those who have volunteered and are making a particularly important contribution to our country.
… the Austrian Armed Forces, which help in a wide variety of areas where support is needed.
… all police officers who continue to ensure security.
… all people who are responsible for ensuring that all citizens receive up-to-date and reliable information.
… All Austrians who are currently looking after other people!

THANKS for your important contribution!”

This from PlanetSKI reader, Adrian Barratt:

Adrian Barratt

“My Niece, who ‘foolishly’ travelled over to France on Saturday by car, ended up in Les Arcs just as it shutdown, group of 8, went out partying, big party in the apartment block the next day, any way finally got back to Herts last night, after being stuck on the wrong side of the tunnel for a day, mixed with 100’s of people, both her and her friend who stayed over, woke this morning to classic Covid symptoms, struggling to breathe, an ambulance arrived, has isolated the whole household and contacting the travelling companions.

“The French authorities could have stopped them with an early closure on Friday along with Austria and Germany.

“Who knows how many people they have inadvertently spread the virus amongst.

“My brother in law is classed as vulnerable as he suffers with diabetes, now stuck with 2 of them in the same house.”

This from British seasonal worker in Meribel who has shared the news on social media. Good sentiments.

“Hey everyone! Just a heads up I’ve tested positive for coronavirus.

“Wanted to let you all know as despite the fact that you may not have any symptoms you should be careful with any friends or relatives who may be more vulnerable than you.

“Good luck and stay healthy.”

TUESDAY

PLEA FOR HELP FROM ONE OF OUR READERS:

Sarah Fenwick – “My 18 year old daughter is stuck in Tignes with no transport. Would happily “leave immediately” if transport was available. Can’t even get through to the foreign office for advice. Don’t want to book a flight and put her on a transfer to Geneva (if there was one available) in case flights are cancelled. Tough knowing what to do.”

If you can hep then please message us on our Facebook page.

Many thanks.

FRANCE – LIFE IN THE LOCKDOWN:  Alex’s account

Simon Perry & Alex Beuchert in Tignes 17 March 2020

Simon & Alex in Tignes

PlanetSKI reader Alex Beuchert, with husband Simon Perry, steps out in Tignes (accompanied by the appropriate paperwork) for some sunshine and exercise as France enters day one of lockdown:

“There weren’t as many people around & clearly cars were being packed up & seasonnaires hugging each other good bye!!!

“Chatting – from a safe distance – to some small business owners here, clearly they will be hit incredibly hard & might not survive it.

“They’re quite sombre for good reason & have my full sympathies as a former business owner myself. It’s a big hurt for them, coming on top of all the uncertainty following Brexsh*t!

“We had a pleasant walk towards the lake, watching a few children sledging on the Rosset, watched by their parents.

“The still frozen lake path now has a ‘closed/passage interdite’ barrier across it, but that wasn’t stopping numerous people walking from either end (not us).

Lake in Tignes 17 March 2020

Closed

“We could spot some single ski tourers, ignoring the ban on such activity. I will be respecting the ban on accessing the ski area; we’re all in this together & clearly it’s for the greater good.

FRANCE – LIFE IN THE LOCKDOWN: Marcia’s account

“A lot of people packed up and left in the early hours of this morning – getting out while they still can. Others are on transfer buses today,” says Marcia Nash in the emptying ski resort of Tignes.

“I have heard that most airlines have cancelled most flights so I hope everyone manages to get home.

“Those of us staying in France are confined to our homes from midday apart from essential work, shopping and we are allowed to go out to exercise but alone. (Presumably couples and families can go together!)

“We have to carry a form with us with the explanation of why we are out!

“Drastic times. And it all happened so fast! A week ago people were drinking in bars and joking about Coronavirus.”

? Marcia Nash – Tignes this morning, Tuesday 17 March 2020

Tignes, France

Tignes, France

THIS FROM RADIO VAL d’ISERE:

UPDATE: All trains in the Tarentaise region will no longer be running from tomorrow onwards.

Emmanuel Macron announced at 8pm yesterday evening that France would be going into almost total lockdown as of midday today for 15 days minimum.

This means that no one is permitted to leave their residence except in specific circumstances.

These are:

– To go from your home to your place of work if working from home is absolutely not possible.
– To go to the nearest shop to you in order to buy essentials.
– To visit the doctor but please only use if your situation is dire. For anyone that needs to go to hospital, the army will be transporting those with severe injury or illness.
– To travel to take care of your children or to help vulnerable people but with the strict condition of respecting barrier gestures;
– To exercise but only on an individual basis, near where you live and without stopping to meet people.

Anyone not abiding by these restrictions will face sanctions of between 38 and 135€ and the Gendarmes will be enforcing the lockdown.

If outside, you will need an attestation or certificate stating these reasons, which can be found on the government website.

There is also one pinned to the top of the Val d’Isere seasonaire page and some will be printed out and available to collect outside the Tourist Office.

The same businesses and services that were open before will remain open, so supermarkets, Pharmacies and Tabacs will stay open. The Pharmacy’s opening hours are changing to 9am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm.

The Tourist Office is closed for walk ins and will accept telephone calls only until midday. After this, they will answer questions by email only on infos@valdisere.com

The Schengen area will close its external borders at midday for at least 30 days.

All trips between non-European countries and EU countries will be suspended.

Within that area, it depends on the situation between countries.

The situation is changing rapidly.

French people in other countries will be allowed to return.

The Agency for the Reception of Foreign Citizens and the digital access point in the prefecture are suspended until further notice.

Therefore, exceptionally, the period of validity of the following documents, which expire from March 16, will be automatically extended by three months: long-stay visas, residence permits, temporary residence permits, asylum application certificates and residence permit receipts. The extension is automatic and does not require reporting to the Prefecture.

In terms of transportation today, there are trains leaving Bourg Saint Maurice at 10h40, 12h14, 14h16, 4h26 and 6h12. The buses that get to these trains in time will be leaving at 8h05, 10h40, 14h40 and 16h35. The Red bus has now ceased operation as has the bus linking Val d’Isere and Tignes.

President Macron has told the nation he wants no company to be exposed to the risk of collapse as a result of the pandemic.

He has also said gas, electricity and water bills are to be suspended – as are rents – and the state will guarantee companies’ loans with a €300bn package.

Chomage (or unemployment benefit) will be massively increased too.

For employers, details of their rights were presented on the Radio website in French yesterday.

Although the vast majority of travel in Val has been in the outwards direction by nearly all seasonal staff, some people came up from the valley to be voluntarily confined to Val d’Isère rather than in town.

We can guess that the possibility of ski touring has been a draw during confinement.

However it is important to note that touring on the closed ski area is entirely at the risk of those who practice it.

Aid from the municipality is no longer guaranteed. The PGHM, which usually intervenes in helicopter rescue services, requests that ski tourers no longer tour on risky routes to keep the risk of accidents to an absolute minimum.

The helicopter must be easily mobilisable for journeys related to the current health crisis.

The walking paths and Cross Country pistes are closed as of this morning.

President Macron called on collective responsibility to fight the war on the virus and begged that people accept the constraints in place.

He said that anyone not abiding by the rules is putting their friend’s and family’s health at risk.

Here at Radio Val d’Isere, we will continue to be providing up to date information but with a changed schedule transmissions from home by Valentin and myself.

English information will still be coming out at 8h10, 9h10 and 10h10 and then at the same time as usual in the middle of the day so 12h45 and 13h45 and then an evening transmission.

Radio-TV Val d'Isere

Radio-TV Val d’Isere

MONDAY

FRANCE GOES INTO LOCKDOWN

We hinted at the measures earlier on PlanetSKI (see lower down this article).

We had it from a very good source who told us the lockdown was coming and even gave us some details, which turned out to be correct.

All ski resorts will be affected by the nationwide regulations.

France will go into enforced lockdown from Tuesday at midday the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said.

Everyone has been ordered to stay at home, and can only leave for essential reasons.

Movements will be very severely limited.

“We are at war,” the president said numerous times.

Here are the key details:

·       All non-essential movement to be banned from Tuesday midday for 15 days; residents must stay at home.

·       Punishments for those flouting the regulations.

·       Army to be used to help transport the sick to hospital.

·       Borders to be closed in agreement with other European Union countries

·       No business, regardless of size, will be allowed to fail

MASS EXODUS FROM FRENCH SKI RESORTS

The French government is thought to be issuing a decree later today for ‘total containment’.

The exact details remain unclear at the moment but people are likely to be ordered to stay at home.

Some say it will last into the second half of next month.

It has led to a mass exodus of people from French ski resorts.

Many holidaymakers are on their way back and British workers in the Alps are having to make up their minds whether to stay or come home.

Geneva airport is busy with long queues developing.

The head of the health service in France, Jérôme Salomon, is warning that the situation is “deteriorating very rapidly”.

The rumours are spreading that the whole country could be set for an impending lockdown similar to what Italy and Spain have put in place.

The government has today been denying these reports as “fake news”.

President Macron will address the nation at 19:00 GMT (20:00 local time) this evening.

France set to impose new measures

France set to impose new measures

FRENCH SKI RESORTS: TO STAY OR GO? – STORIES FROM TIGNES/VAL D’ISERE

PlanetSKI readers Alex Beuchert & husband Simon Perry have decided to stay put in their apartment in Tignes where they live each winter.

“Would prefer to be locked down here than anywhere else,” Alex told us this morning.

“I spent a few hours on the x-country pistes in the stunning Manchet Valley in Val d’Isere this morning, alongside many tens of others, mostly walking.”

Alex Beuchert walking in Val d'Isere 16 March 2020 - photo Alex Beuchert

Alex Beuchert in Val d’Isere, Monday 16th March – photo Alex Beuchert

Walkers in the Manchet Valley, Val d'Isere 16 March 2020 - photo Alex Beuchert

Manchet Valley, Val d’Isere, Monday 16th March – photo Alex Beuchert

Arcelle piste & Manchet Express lift, Val d'Isere 16 March 2020 - photo Alex Beuchert

Empty piste & closed lift in the Manchet Valley, Val d’Isere – photo Alex Beuchert

Alex walked from Le Lac to Val Claret in Tignes on Sunday.

“Tons of people in small groups enjoying picnics from supermarkets or takeaway pizzas on (closed) restaurant terraces. Loads of punters touring/hiking/show shoeing yesterday, plenty without any safety gear, so last night….”

Ban on using the ski area in Tignes, 16 March 2020

Ban on using the ski area in Tignes for any activity

Joanne McClelland and husband Ian have decided not to stay.

They are on their way home from their apartment in Tignes to the UK.

“There are so many rumours flying around we thought we should just get on with it,” Joanne said.

“The latest story is that Macron will make an announcement at 8pm tonight putting Paris into total lock down and possibly giving people 48hrs to return to their homes or stay put for the next 45 days.”

Joanne said of Tignes as they left: “the atmosphere was quite upbeat and the weather glorious!”

The town hall in the linked ski resort of Val d’Isere issued this guidance to those still in resort this morning:

“The pedestrian paths and cross-country ski trails at the bottom of the resort are open, rescue on the slopes is no longer guaranteed. Only the PGHM maintains a watch, gatherings should be limited to family gatherings.

“Closing parties are to be avoided…….we strongly recommend that people over the age of 70 stay at home and limit their travel.”

The piste patrollers in Val d’Isere have added their own advice:

Stay home message from Val d'Isere piste patrol 16 March 2020

Stay at home message

“In this difficult period of early closure (due to COVID-19), and despite the recommendations of the government, many of you want to still enjoy some of the magnificent conditions in the mountains, and we understand you, but it is IMPORTANT to think ……

“In the event of an accident, you will be transferred to fully saturated hospitals, and you will jeopardize the entire emergency chain ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ …. So let’s respect all the measures in order to be able to restore to faster the situation⏱⏱⏱⏱ ……….. Thank you all ….”

ADVICE FROM INGHAMS

Inghams

Inghams

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM INGHAMS

The ski operator has published its own ones and likely similar for other ski operators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my holiday going to take place as planned?

We are no longer operating any ski holidays for the remainder of the 2019/20 ski season. If you are due to travel in the next few weeks, we will contact you in due course with further information regarding your holiday. We ask you to please be patient as we will be contacting those customers with the most imminent departures as a priority.

How will I know if my travel plans are going to be affected?

The unpredictable impacts of the Coronavirus mean that decisions about cancelling or changing your holiday may be no more than a few days before you are due to depart. We pay constant attention to the guidance from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), ABTA, Public Health England and local health authorities in our destinations. We will respond to any advice by the FCO against non-essential travel to your destination, and will contact you as soon as it is clear we won’t be able to provide your holiday.

What happens if travel advice changes while I am on holiday?

We will respond accordingly to any advice by the FCO or overseas government agencies and we will communicate any changes to you. Please ensure you have updated My Booking with your contact details before you travel.

I’m due to travel this winter, what’s happening with my holiday?

We are in the process of contacting guests booked to travel to France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Canada or Andorra up to mid-April to offer alternative options.

I’ve got a summer holiday to Italy with Inghams, will that still go ahead?

For the time being, we have only contacted guests departing up to 4th April, in line with the date given by the Italian Authorities. All holidays after this date are currently due to go ahead as planned, but as this is a rapidly changing situation, we will continue to closely monitor FCO advice and will only contact you if the advice about travelling changes 14 days prior to your departure date.

Will I be entitled to a full refund if Inghams has to curtail my holiday?

If your holiday has to be curtailed while you are in resort due to circumstances beyond our control, refunds will not be made for any unused portion of your package holiday, travel or accommodation arrangements which is not attributable to any failure on our part or the part of our suppliers to provide these services.

We will of course ensure that arrangements are in place to bring you back to the UK, but any claims should be made under your own travel insurance policy for any refunds of your travel, accommodation, and any other special activities, excursions or other services of your package holiday contract.

Will I be entitled to a full refund if Inghams has to cancel or make a significant change to my holiday due to the Coronavirus outbreak?

Following the decisions made by the governments of our featured winter destinations in the last week, we have had to cease our winter operations for the 2019/20 season. We will be issuing credit vouchers for the same value as the monies paid to Inghams to all guests booked to depart between 16 March and the end of the winter season, which can be used on a future holiday departing before 30 April 2021, either with Inghams or with any of our sister brands (Ski Total, Esprit Ski, Flexiski and Santa’s Lapland). These will be issued within the next 28 days.

Please remember it is a condition of our booking terms that you have valid travel insurance.

Can I get a refund if I chose to cancel/curtail my holiday?

If you decide not to travel and choose to cancel your holiday before departure and the FCO advice does not advise against travel at that time, we are not able to offer any refund for your holiday or ski extras and our usual cancellation terms apply.Equally, if we make the decision to cancel holidays to a given destination and you cancelled before we took that action, we will not offer a refund retrospectively.

We strongly recommend that you keep your booking in place and await a change to FCO advice. If FCO advice has changed, wait for us to contact you, which we will do at least 14 days prior to departure, where time allows. If you have underlying health concerns, we would recommend that you speak to your GP and travel insurer, who may offer a degree of cover for cancellation on these grounds.

I haven’t yet paid the balance for my holiday. Can I pay later while I wait and see what happens?

We ask you to make the balance payment for your holiday at least 10 weeks before your holiday start date. After 10 weeks our usual cancellation charges apply (including the full cost of any flights we have booked on your behalf).

Will I be covered by my travel insurance if I decide to cancel? 

This will depend on the terms of your policy. Depending on the reason for your cancellation (for example if you are concerned about a serious underlying medical condition), you should contact your travel insurance provider to check if you can make a claim.

What’s happening at the airports when I arrive or leave?

As a precautionary measure enhanced health screening procedures have been put in place at airports in many countries. Travellers should comply with these processes and take relevant preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure. Please visit your arrival/departure airport website for the specific measures that have been introduced.

Where can I check for up-to-date travel and health information for my destination?

·       UK health authorities are providing detailed advice for specific destinations and locations which is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

·       Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to. Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

·       The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website travelhealthpro.org.uk/countriesprovides specific country-by-country travel health advice

·       The NHS website has useful information about how to take preventative measures against Coronavirus at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

·       ABTA also has updated advice and FAQs for travellers at www.abta.com/coronavirus

AIRLINES GROUND PLANES

This from the BBC:

“Travel restrictions and a slump in demand due to the coronavirus has forced airlines to cancel almost all flights and temporarily reduce staff.

“Virgin Atlantic will cut four fifths of its flights and has asked staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave.

“Other airlines have also taken drastic measures, with budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet grounding most of their fleets.

“British Airways owner IAG plans to cut capacity by 75% in April and May.

“Holiday company Tui has said it will suspend the “majority” of its operations, affecting “package travel, cruises and hotel” bookings.

“Passenger numbers and bookings have plummeted in recent weeks as countries closed their borders and holiday makers cancelled trips.”

TUI owns the UK ski operator, Crystal Ski Holidays.

Planes grounded

Planes grounded

 

Desperate times require desperate measures

Desperate times require desperate measures

BANSKO SKI RESORT IN BULGARIA CLOSES SUDDENLY

More on the breaking news below….

We’re told that the lifts in the Bulgarian ski resort were stopped at around midday Monday. An emergency meeting of the town council took place after a 9-year-old British boy on holiday was confirmed to have coronavirus.

Bulgarian National Radio reports that the child arrived in the resort on Friday with family.

The family was placed in quarantine after it was discovered that one of the party had been in contact with his sister in the UK, who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Bansko, Bulgaria, 16 March 2020 - photo banskoblog.com

Bansko, Bulgaria today, 16th March – photo www.banskoblog.com

BALKAN HOLIDAYS STATEMENT ON BULGARIA SKIING

⚠️ Due to the imminent closure of the Bulgaria ski zones across Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo we will be curtailing all holidays and bringing our customers home as soon as possible.

“Information for the new departure date and time as well as details of the transfer will be provided shortly by our team in resort. If you are in resort with us, please keep in contact with your Balkan Holidays representative for updates.

“In addition to this, all holidays and flight only bookings departing between 16th – 21st March 2020 have now been cancelled. We will be in contact with the affected customers shortly and will be issuing full refunds.

Further updates to follow.”

BREAKING NEWS: 

BANSKO

A nine-year-old British child who had been on a skiing holiday in Bansko has become the 52nd confirmed case of Covid-19 coronavirus in Bulgaria, national crisis staff chief Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski told an 8am briefing on March 16.

The resort is now closed.

We understand the resort closed suddenly mid-morning.

“We are literally just skiing in Bansko, on on the piste now. All the lifts have just stopped. I don’t think they are going to reopen,” said one post on Twitter.

Bansko, Bulgaria

Bansko, Bulgaria

BBC

BBC to delay TV licence fee changes for the over-75s until August in light of the coronavirus situation.

BBC

BBC

BREAKING NEWS FROM FRANCE

Macron announcement at 8pm French time tonight.

Another level of containment to be announced…

More to follow…

BREAKING NEWS FROM VAL THORENS:

? INFO: Due to a real risk of confinement on a national scale, we call all those still present in Val Thorens to leave the resort immediately.

Val Thorens, France

Val Thorens, France

On Sunday, there were still a lot of people in resort, with some understood to have no means to transport to leave.

They were soaking up the spring sunshine, in the absence of any skiing.

Val Thorens, France, Sunday 15th March 2020 - photo Cathy Mini

Val Thorens, France, Sunday 15th March – photo Cathy Mini

STILL SKIIN’

Colin Reid – Grizzly Gulch – ski touring at Alta.

I’m not ready to live in a bunker…

Alta, Utah

Alta, Utah

Earlier today we got things rolling on Monday with an image and thought from our good friends over at Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria.

Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

And we would like to say that here at PlanetSKI we are a well-oiled news machine.

Our fully-staffed news planning team hasn’t just scribbled a few vague notes down on the back of an envelope late on Sunday night while having a well-deserved beer and decided to fly by the seat of its pants.

Oh, no.

PlanetSKI plans

PlanetSKI plans

Right down to business…

VERBIER, SWITZERLAND

Verbier has announced stringent new measures in the battle against coronavirus:

“Due to the evolution of the situation linked to coronavirus and in order to protect customers staff and others they meet,  the municipal authorities  strongly recommend the immediate closure of all public establishments and shops in Verbier with the exception of pharmacies, food stores, banks, petrol stations and kiosks”.

We understand meetings will be taking place from 07.30 on Monday and the measures could be implemented across the whole of the Valais canton.

We’ll keep you posted here on PlanetSKI.

More to follow….

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

UK SKI TOUR OPERATOR, PEAK RETREATS

We are currently dealing with all our clients in resort and if you are in resort you should have had communications from us already.

Once we have finished dealing with clients in resorts, we will be dealing with all our clients with forward bookings, in order of departure date, and you can be assured that we will be in touch as soon as we can.

As you can imagine our resources are stretched to the maximum so in the meantime we ask that you do not contact us and that you keep an eye this dedicated page and on your mailbox for any updates.

Peak Retreats

Peak Retreats

SKIING IN SCOTLAND

It is one of the few countries in the world where you can still make a few turns.

This from Glencoe.

Glencoe Mountain Resort – Corona Virus update:

“In answer to the many questions that we have been asked over the last few days our current position is that we plan to stay open until told otherwise by the UK or Scottish Government.

“This could be days, weeks or even the end of the season on 4th May.

“As advice from the Government is changing on an hourly basis the hundreds of inquiries we get a day asking ” if we are still going to be open next Thursday” really are a waste of your time and ours ???.

“Please just enjoy the fact that we are still open and take advantage of the great skiing and snowboarding still available.

“Glencoe Mountain Resort Covid-19 policy ensures we are doing everything we can to keep you safe during your visit but there are also things you can do including:-

– Staying away if you are feeling unwell.
– Practicing good hygiene when onsite.
– Using T-bars and the Access Chair as a single if you are visiting on your own.
– Use card (contactless) rather than cash where possible.
– Carrying snacks and drinks with you so that you can avoid the Plateau cafe if it’s a busy day.
– Hiring equipment offsite so that you can avoid the queues at ski hire on busy days.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions 01855 851226 during office hours or 07977 553901 out of office hours.

Take care.

And PlanetSKI’s very own Scotland reporter, Rod Frazer, has been in Glencoe enjoying the conditions.

We are delighted to say that PlanetSKI is still out on snow, despite all that is happening.

Rod Frazer

Rod Frazer

Check out his full report.

FLIGHTS BACK FROM THE ALPS

Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski are running four special charters to get their guests home.

“Customers who arrived in our French resorts on Saturday will be flown back to the UK on 4 rescue flights on Monday 16th March,” said a statement from Ski Total.

At these times many criticise the tour operators and their staff.

Here at PlanetSKI we do so when justified.

But we have heard tales of some fabulous work done by the teams out on the ground and the staff back in the UK offices.

Here at PlanetSKI we salute you for your work in these very difficult times.

And so do our readers:

Su James  –

I’d like to thank the Inghams staff who have undoubtedly worked so hard to get us back.

Still, we leave for Grenoble airport at 05.15, flight to Manchester at 11.05, then a bus back to Bristol airport to collect our car, followed by a 3 and a half hour journey (plus stops for coffee to stay awake) back home to West Wales.

It’s going to be a long day.

Then we’ll have to claim back what we can from our insurance company, and they’ll probably want us to make separate claims for refunds from the ski hire and lift companies…

Nevertheless, it’s just a holiday we’ve lost, not jobs for the rest of this season and probably the summer as well…

The reps, resort staff and others have our sympathy.

NORTH AMERICA

And most resorts are now closed in North America.

We have a full report here on the picture across The Pond:

And the latest….

We have just heard that Sundance in Utah is closing.

“After considerable thought and careful deliberation, Sundance Mountain Resort has made the difficult decision to close operations effective Monday, March 16 in response to the evolving COVID-19 health crisis,” it said in a statement.

“The health of our employees, guests and community are our top priority in this uncertain time.”

Sundance, Utah

Sundance, Utah

SKI SOLUTIONS IS LOOKING FORWARD

We know that with the recent outbreak of Covid-19, things may seem a little uncertain right now within the world of travel.

That’s why we’re looking ahead to the future and want to assure you that when you choose to book with us, you can do so with confidence.

As a fully ABTA and ATOL protected tour operator, we are here to look after you, whatever happens.

We have a fantastic range of choices for next season’s ski holiday and would be delighted to help you plan something to look forward to.

With over 30 years’ experience and a wealth of knowledge and contacts in all of the destinations that we send our clients to, we can help you make the best possible choice.

Ski Solutions

Ski Solutions

More to follow…

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