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UK SKIERS IN FRENCH RESORTS ALARMED BY NEW LOCKDOWN MEASURES

Here at PlanetSKI we are being asked when and how people should leave French ski resorts.  There is little official information and confirmation but here is our ‘best guess’ & the accounts of some still in ski areas.

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On Monday evening the French government announced a raft of new measures to try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

These include a ban on all travel from midday on Tuesday unless it is ‘essential’.

The country is going into lockdown along the lines of Italy.

Many skiers and snowboarders have now left after all the resorts in France closed on Saturday.

TUESDAY AM – 17TH MARCH

FRANCE LOCKDOWN

“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,” Marcia Nash has told us from 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.

“I think I will stay in today in case everyone else is doing last-minute shopping.

“I think we are safer in Tignes than most places. Fairly sure there is no Coronavirus in Tignes yet and – if we all stay here – we all stay safe as no one new will arrive.

MONDAY NIGHT – 16TH MARCH

The tour operators have got the vast majority of their clients back to the UK.

“Many of our featured residences had not closed and a number of our clients were enjoying the sunshine, the mountains and were quite happy to stay in resort a few more days but we felt it was becoming risky,” said the boss of a leading ski company to us earlier today.

The company had a tip off of what was coming from a government source and passed the information on to us at PlanetSKI.

We hinted at it earlier despite some criticism from readers that we were ‘speculating’.

Here on PlanetSKI we shy away from speculation and we write on known information.

Tonight, many UK people in French ski resorts remain unsure what to do.

We have received many comments/questions and have tired to answer as many as we can:

Cieran Fraher: Hi we are still stuck in la plagne trying to get transfers out. Have you any info on the travel restrictions??

Matt Hardman: We were due to fly back to the U.K. from Geneva on Wednesday morning ! Any idea if tourists returning home is classed as essential travel or are we stuck here ?!  We are in Morzine.

Our advice at PlanetSKI, and we stress that it is only a guess as there has been no official clarification, is that returning to your home country will be classed as ‘essential’.

We left Italy as the lockdown came into force and that was the case.

Travel was permitted and so was crossing the border even though it was worrying.

We too are trying to seek official clarification, but to no avail so far.

“I recommend that all British people in ski resorts, who do not want to be locked down in a ski resort leave immediately,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

UPDATE:

This tonight from the British Ambassador in Paris:

Good evening,

I wanted to write to you all with an update on the Covid-19 situation in France following President Macron’s address to the nation this evening.

First, let me address President Macron’s statement that “from midday tomorrow, the external borders of the EU and Schengen zone will be closed.

Concretely, all journeys between non-European countries and the EU will be suspended for 30 days”.

I wanted to reassure you that this will not apply to the UK.

The Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Europe Minister, Amelie de Montchalin, and the Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, have all made statements in public to that effect this evening.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also gave an update on the situation in the UK this afternoon, calling on people to avoid non-essential contact and travel and to self-isolate for 14 days if you have a cough or temperature.

What does President Macron’s statement mean for you as UK citizens in France?

President Macron has asked us all to limit our contact with each other to an absolute minimum in order to stop the spread of the virus.

These measures are vital for protecting ourselves and, in particular, for protecting the more vulnerable amongst us.

Therefore, from tomorrow at 12pm and for 15 days, we will not be able to go out and about, except to buy groceries, seek medical treatment, go to work if we really cannot work from home, or to take a little exercise.

Whilst outside we will have to keep at least one meter’s distance between others and not use the time to meet up with family or exercise with friends.

There will be penalties for anyone not respecting these measures.

A number of economic measures are also being put in place
– utilities bills and rent payments will be suspended for businesses, and funds will be made available to support small companies and the self-employed.

What other measures are in place?

Non-essential locations across France were closed at midnight on Saturday.

This affects restaurants, cinemas, cafes, discos, non-essential shops.

You will have seen that ski resorts are now closed.Public transport will continue to run at a reduced capacity but should only be used for travel to work in the cases where working from home is really not an option.

If you can work from home, please do so.

What can you do?

I want to reassure you, however, that businesses essential to daily life will remain open – food shops, pharmacies, tabacs, and petrol stations.

If you go out to access these, you must respect the social distancing guidelines outlined above.

If you feel unwell, please stay at home.

You may wish to call your usual doctor or consult the numero vert.

If you have a high fever or breathing difficulties, please call the SAMU on 15.

We update our travel advice regularly to reflect these changes but the situation is evolving quickly and you may wish to sign up for alerts on twitter @FCOtravel or on our website.

These measures are significant.

But they are also essential.

They are in place to protect us all and particularly the most vulnerable – people with underlying health problems or who are more elderly – and we must all play our part in abiding by these measures.

I’d like to thank you for your understanding and for playing your part.

I would also like to thank everyone in the French health system for everything they are doing to keep us safe and well.

My team and I are in constant contact with the French government and our colleagues in the UK are monitoring the situation in France very closely.

We will provide further updates as the situation develops.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

Ed Llewellyn
British Ambassador.

Some of our readers, who live in resorts for the season have chosen to stay, as they predicted the lockdown.

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 ….”

Here at PlanetSKI we will update the advice when we get official clarification.

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