HOW LONG WILL BORDER RESTRICTIONS TO ALPINE COUNTRIES REMAIN?
11th May 2020
Last modified on May 12th, 2020
The UK is set to introduce quarantine measures for international visitors. France, though not the other alpine nations, is exempt. Other alpine countries put restrictions and quarantine regulations in place back in March. They re more likely to be extended rather than lifted. UPDATED
The French Embassy in London said on Friday that there would not be a 14-day quarantine for incoming international visitors coming from the UK.
The UK government has reciprocated & said it will not impose quarantine on people arriving from France.
All other countries in the world will be affected by the UK quarantine decision, except for the Republic of Ireland.
Some are questioning the science and medical reasoning behind the decision when France has had 26,380 deaths and is one of the most badly hit countries in Europe.
Some in the ski and travel industry are welcoming the move as concerns grow about border restrictions to the alpine nations.
France is the most popular ski destination for GB skiers and snowboarders with over 30% of the UK market and any border restrictions would have a significant impact.
The French Alps and Pyrenees are also popular destinations for summer with skiing on offer at Les2Alpes in the summer months.
An official announcement on international travel is expected from the European Union on Wednesday.
In his address to the nation on Sunday, the British Prime Minister said: “I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”
The government later clarified that the rules would apply not just to air passengers, but also to those arriving by other means of travel.
In a joint statement, the UK and French governments said they had agreed to “work together in taking forward appropriate border measures”.
“This co-operation is particularly necessary for the management of our border.”
If the other alpine nations lift their restrictions it will depend on the data, the spread of the virus and what practical containment measures and testing is available.
It is a reasonably safe bet at this stage that people will not have achieved immunity, and neither will a vaccine have been developed and administered to the vast majority of the population of all countries.
Coronavirus is therefore likely to be around next winter and will not have been eradicated.
It could therefore have a significant impact on next winter in the mountains.
Despite saying there will be no quarantines between the two countries the current advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is as follows:
“As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.”
How long will that advice remain?
Will the alpine nations keep their border restrictions in place next winter?
Here at PlanetSKI we have been told privately that one large alpine ski area has been advised by the authorities that border restrictions may be in place until next March and they should consider planning in case this is the outcome.
We stress there is no current reason to think this will be the outcome, just a possibility.
“We don’t have a clear perspective of the future, especially due to the uncertainty of the openings of borders with other countries and even among regions,” we have been told.
The person told us that the winter season will be more difficult with the queues at the lifts and new measures will be introduced, we have “no idea for the winter.”
The area is focusing purely on internal tourism this summer.
Another major region in one of the large skiing nations has told us, again on the understanding we do not identify the region, that it is looking at a scenario where there are few foreign visitors and they may therefore be relying on the domestic market.
It is perhaps a worst-case scenario, but it is a possibility.
A recent survey of businesses in the UK snowsports industry by Ski Press and Skipedia said the uncertainly of whether British passport holders will be able to travel next winter was a “key concern”, with 82% worried about freedom of movement across Europe.
This could be also be compounded by Brexit said some of the respondents.
Critics of the new UK quarantine regulations say the measure will be effective only when the destination country has a very low number of domestic cases.
Britain currently has the highest number of daily cases in Europe.
Its overall total is 31,855.
This high number of cases, may also be considered when countries with low cases, decided how to ease any border restrictions.
Austria for example is seen as a European county that has dealt with the pandemic well.
It has had 618 deaths and is now easing its lockdown restrictions with no rise in new cases.
See this earlier article as we looked at the possible travel implications:
Like the UK, perhaps some alpine will continue not to allow people to arrive if it is thought they may bring covid-19 with them.
One interesting development is that Vienna airport in Austria is offering on-the-spot covid-19 tests to arriving passengers.
If people test negative then they are allowed into the country and do not have to adhere to its current 14-day quarantine regulations.
Innsbruck is the main gateway airport to the ski resorts in the Tirol.
The airport is currently closed but we have been informed it is watching the Vienna initiative closely and “will provide covid tests if the airlines or tour operator wish to have them”.
If you have a view on the matter then please feel free to comment over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page and if you have any practical experience with alpine border controls we’d be delighted if you could share your experiences.
This reaction from Which? on the government’s quarantine announcement:
“This news will add to the confusion that British travellers are currently facing when trying to work out whether they can travel as planned, safely rebook postponed holidays, and when they will receive the refunds they are entitled to under consumer law for cancelled trips.
“The situation is chaotic: the guidance issued by the Government against travelling abroad is indefinite, and yet some airlines and travel companies are selling flights and holidays due to depart within the next few weeks which carry no warning that they are unlikely to go ahead as planned.
“Airlines and holiday companies must now be given clear FCO guidance on what dates it is appropriate to sell flights and holidays for. The government must also urgently produce a plan to support the travel industry through this crisis, so carriers and holiday companies can comply with the law and refund consumers without fear of going bust.”