Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding
30th May 2020
Last modified on June 7th, 2020
The team at PlanetSKI is reporting all the news & developments as it affects the snowsports world in our ever-popular rolling blog. If you want to see its impact and the response of skiers & snowboarders then read on… UPDATED
Here are the earlier rolling blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we report its impact and update daily:
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
Saturday, June 6th
Roadblocks in Place in Australia to Stop People Heading to Ski Resorts this Weekend
The resorts of Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass are in the Kosciuszko National Park, about 500kms south of Sydney.
With travel restrictions eased the police fear too many people will head to the area even though the ski resorts remain closed.
Park authorities say they would struggle to cope if there were a coronavirus outbreak and want visitors to stay away.
“The concern is, and we have been talking to emergency services, which includes also the local medicos ((medical staff)) – they are not prepared,” said Mick Pettitt of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“We are not ready yet for a large influx of people. If, for example, there was a COVID outbreak, that would put the system under huge stress.”
Highways have been closed and police roadblocks put in place.
The ski resorts themselves are opening later this month as we have reported, ski season set to get underway in Australia.
Australia has had 7,240 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 102 people died from the virus.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to Close on Sunday
A lack of snow means the resort is calling it a day after it reopened on May 27th, A-Basin reopens for skiing and snowboarding.
“Every season, no matter how hard we try and stop it, the snow still melts,” said the chief operating officer, Alan Henceroth.
“We think Sunday is a good day to close out the season. The snow is almost gone.”
The resort had planned to close on June 7th, but if there had been enough snow it would have continued.
Some years it carries on into July.
The ski area reopened with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the number of skiers and snowboarders each day to 600.
There is expected to be big demand for the final day and the resort asks people who have already had a ski to let others who haven’t make their final turns of the season.
“Many of you have skied since the re-opening. Some of you have not. I have a voluntary suggestion that gets you nothing except good karma,” said Henceroth in his blog.
“For the last drawing this evening (which is to ski Sunday), if you have already skied a day since the re-opening, don’t enter the drawing.
“Give the folks that haven’t skied a better chance of being selected. My request is purely voluntary.
“Again, you get nothing out of this, except helping some of your unlucky A-Basin brothers and sisters. We are all trying to get through this crazy period together.
“And it would be very Good Karma.”
Exodus from Travel Industry
36% of people working in travel in the UK are actively considering leaving the industry due to the coronavirus pandemic and its possible aftermath.
A survey by WorkAdvisor, The Impact of the Coronvirus Crisis On People Working in the UK Travel Industry, said 57% claimed their mental health has been affected by the crisis.
The survey has been reported on by Travel Mole.
11% said it had had a ‘significant’ impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
“It would seem that the pressures of dealing with customers and refunds has piled on the stress for staff in the travel industry during the crisis and that having to work remotely has not helped workers handle the amount of work,” said a spokesman for WorkAdvisor.
The survey also found that more than three-quarters of workers are concerned about returning to an office environment and 68% believe they will be working from home in the future.
Some 11% said they were ‘very concerned’ about returning to the office and 4% said they would refuse.
Concerns surround using public transport, not managing to maintain social distancing in the office, and fears of a second wave of Covid-19.
54% of respondents have been furloughed, which is more than double the national average of 25%.
9% said they had been asked to work whilst furloughed, which is against the rules of the Job Retention Scheme.
Friday, June 5th
EU Wants Borders to Reopen by Beginning of July
The EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, has announced the plan and the home affairs ministers of the EU are discussing easing border controls today
The EU as a bloc is not looking at lifting controls for non-EU travellers.
Some border controls have already been lifted.
Italy lifted its controls this week and Austria has followed suit, though the Austrian authorities have kept the border with Italy closed.
Today the Czech Republic is lifting its controls with neighbours Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.
Spain plans to reopen its borders on 1st July only to neighbours France and Portugal.
Other EU countries are planning to open their European borders on 15th June.
Switzerland is to lift border restrictions with the EU, EFTA and the UK from June 15th.
It follows a previous decision that borders with neighbouring Austria, Germany and France would be opened on that date.
“Due to the current epidemiological situation, the current entry restrictions can also be lifted for other EU/EFTA countries and for the United Kingdom from June 15th,” the Federal Department of Justice and Police said in a statement today.
Italy lifted its border restrictions with Switzerland on June 3rd, but the Swiss have kept their controls in place with Italy.
More Ski Resorts in the Alps Open for Summer
Zermatt and Verbier in Switzerland fire up their lifts with Les2Alpes in France doing the same.
It will though be a far from normal summer.
There will be strict social distancing measures in hotels, restaurants and all facilities.
Some resorts in the mountains though are heading to some form of normality.
At the moment it is for locals and nationals only as borders remain closed but they will be eased later this month.
See here for our full story, More Ski Resorts in the Alps Open for Summer
Thursday, June 4th
Swissport Slams UK Quarantine Rules
The head of the UK’s biggest airport services company, Swissport, has said the new quarantine rules could deliver a “killer blow” to the travel sector.
From Monday 8th June all passengers arriving in the UK must self-isolate for 14 days.
Swissport chief executive Jason Holt said the plan would deter people from travelling and put ground staff jobs at risk as a result.
“If it’s so important and it’s so relevant to the virus, and we all want the country to be safe, why wasn’t this done in March? That’s why everybody’s quite confused on this,” he said to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said Swissport is hoping the rules will only be in place for short time.
“We’re really hoping no more than three weeks,” he said.
If it goes beyond that it could do “irredeemable damage to the sector”.
Swissport earned £2.8bnin revenue in 2019.
It has furloughed most of its 6000 UK staff.
Austria Opens Borders
The country has unilaterally opened its borders, with foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg describing it as a return to “pre-corona” times.
But the frontier remains closed with Italy, which fully reopened all its borders on Wednesday.
Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said “individualist” approaches by different countries risked damaging the EU
And in other news…
Swiss Flock to the Mountains as Lockdown Eases Further
Gatherings of up to 30 people are now allowed.
In the canton of Bern in central Switzerland there were reports of heavy traffic as drivers headed to Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland mountains, according to Swiss Info..
There was also heavy congestion near beauty spots in cantons Glarus, Zug and Appenzell Inner-Rhodes. The Glarus police had to block several roads when some sites became overcrowded.
The popular Verzasca Valley in canton Ticino in southern Switzerland also saw a big influx of visitors.
The Swiss PostBus service reported being busy, especially on routes leading to the start of mountain hikes.
Border restrictions remain in place until mid-June.
The government plans to lift travel restrictions with France, Germany and Austria on June 15th.
But it has told southern neighbour Italy that lifting border controls from June 3, a decision announced by Italy, was “too early”.
Many ski resorts are opening their lifts this weekend on Saturday, June 6th.
WORK CONTINUES ON DIRECT LINK FROM CERVINIA TO KLEIN MATTERHORN
It is the highest construction site in Europe at 3,800m.
Work stopped during coronavirus restrictions, but is now underway again.
The three-cable system with 10 28-seat cabins, built by Leitner ropeways, will be ready for the winter season 2021-22.
The final sections has a 1.7 km span without intermediate support over the Plateau Rosà glacier.
A video animation created with drone footage and 3D simulations shows what the final outcome will look like.
Wednesday, June 3rd
Italy Opens its Borders
Italy has reopened its international borders today and ended travel restrictions between regions.
The final say between inter-region travel is up to the regions themselves.
The move is hoped to encourage tourists back for the summer.
Tourism represents 13% of the Italian economy.
It was the first in Europe to be hit hard by the outbreak and has recorded more than 33,000 deaths.
PlanetSKI was based in the Aosta Valley in the Alps until our stay was cut short as covid-19 spread.
And we hope to return later in the summer if we deem it safe to do so.
Not least to collect our ski gear and pick up our hiking and biking equipment that we left in our rushed exit.
Elsewhere in Europe Germany is to remove its general warning against travel to European countries from June 15th.
It will continue to advise against travel to Britain for as long as the UK government continues to demand a 14-day quarantine for new arrivals.
Life Under Lockdown
So, which one do you have?
Or perhaps it is all three…
Sweden admits it should have introduced tougher lockdown
Sweden has the highest per-capita death rate from coronavirus in the world.
More than 4,400 people in the country have died, while neighbouring Norway, Denmark and Finland all have death tolls of fewer than 600
Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell ,who was behind the country’s policy of not having a lockdown, has admitted it should have imposed more restrictions to control the spread of the virus.
Ski resorts in Sweden were allowed to stay open when they closed across Europe.
We reported on it at the time on PlanetSKI:
“If we would encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” he said in an interview on Sveriges Radio.
It has admitted that ski resorts played a significant role in spreading covid-19 across Europe.
Thredbo in Australia Releases Detail of its Covid-19 Safety Measures
The resort in New South Wales will open on June 22nd as we reported earlier, Ski season set to get underway in Australia.
“We’re planning to open for skiing & snowboarding from 22 June for the season (snow conditions permitting). Mother Nature celebrated the announcement and first days of winter in style with a nice dusting of snow overnight”
“To allow us to operate the winter season within the current social distancing restrictions, we’ve had to modify how we operate this winter and have now released all the details surrounding it.”
There’ll be a limit of two people per quad chair, one at a time on t-bar tip-to-tail queuing, 1.5m social distancing and no group lessons.
See here for the full details announced.
Skiers and snowboarders will see a sharp rise in the price of a daily lift ticket – going up by 20% to $159 a day.
There are no discounts for multi-day passes at present.
The resort will need to limit the number of people on the mountain, though it is unclear what the reduction may be.
The first dusting of snow have already fallen in the resort.
Tuesday, June 2nd
Well, That’s One Way to End Your Coronavirus Job…
The spokesman for Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health, Daniel Koch, delayed his retirement when the coronavirus hit.
He has been the man soberly and carefully leading press briefings and instructing his fellow Swiss citizens how to behave.
Now that the country is lifting some if its lockdown restrictions, he has decided to bid goodbye.
He had an unusual farewell video.
The popular Instagram post shows Koch diving, fully suited, into Bern’s Aare river and waving goodbye to the camera.
EasyJet Resumes Flying to 75% of its Network by August.
EasyJet said it plans to fly half of its 1,022 routes in July and 75% in August, although it will operate only 30% of its normal July to September frequency.
It said this will include flying from all its UK bases in July and August to a wide selection of destinations for summer holidays.
The UK Foreign Office is still advising against all non-essential travel indefinitely.
Fom June 8th the UK will require all but key workers returning from holiday to self-quarantine for 14 -ays.
Several countries, including Spain and Greece, have imposed travel restrictions on UK visitors.
The routes will open up the Alps and Pyrenees to summer trips.
PlanetSKI is hoping to visit the Italian Alps when we deem it safe to do so.
The Italian Tourist Board confirmed today that it will allow British visitors from Wednesday 3rd June with no quarantine restrictions.
“The tourism industry is one of Italy’s key economy drivers so it is with utmost importance that we open for business as soon as it is safe to do so,” said the manager for UK and Ireland, Flavio Zappacosta,.
“We know how popular Italy is for Brits and hope we can inspire them to start to plan and book an Italian holiday this year.”
Here at PlanetSKI we will likely be driving rather than flying.
Whistler/Blackcomb Confirms No Summer Glacier Skiing or Snowboarding this Year
The Canadian resort hopes to open later for other summer activities such as hiking and mountain biking, but its glacier will remain closed.
The chief operating officer, Geoff Buchheister, announced there will be no glacier skiing or riding this summer due to COVID-19 in an email to staff.
Glacier access “adds a layer of complexity over an already complex situation,” he said.
“I know many of you, along with some of the biggest names in our sport, have fond memories of participating in summer glacier camps.
“I am disappointed we are unable to offer glacier skiing and riding this summer. I do not take the decision lightly and understand the impact it will have on the businesses who operate camps on the glacier, but, first and foremost, our priority has to be on planning for a safe summer operation.
“By narrowing our focus to our summer operation, we can ensure that our team is preparing a plan that is careful, measured and realistic, while in keeping with provincial health guidelines,” he said.
“We need to get it right for the sustainability of our business and community. I’ll have more to share on that summer plan in the coming weeks, along with an opening date.”
At the end of May the resort said it hoped to have the lifts running by late June or early July.
Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted.
FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Plan for Next Winter Amid Covid-19 Concerns
There is optimism that next season could go ahead successfully.
However contingency plans will be drawn up should travel restrictions and sport event organisation measures make it impossible to stage a normal World Cup season.
Already in Italy the Cortina 2021 Alpine World Championships have asked for a move to 2022.
In the USA the Burton Snowboard Open has already been cancelled.
A special task force has been established.
There will be minimum requirements for a World Cup event to take place that is fair for competitors.
The 2020-2021 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Cup calendars will be finalised at a later date once various outcomes and scenarios have been planned.
See here for the full details as reported on the FIS web site.
Monday, June 1st
Holidays Are Missed but Many Not Yet Ready to Travel Again
That’s the finding of a survey conducted by the largest holiday company in the world, TUI.
It owns the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski.
A survey of 2,000 adults by TUI found the biggest thing people miss is seeing friends and family, second was eating out.
In third place was holidays.
But only 15% want to get away as soon as possible, 16% want to travel by this winter and 45% want to take a holiday before summer 2021.
TUI said there has been a notable increase in people searching for and booking self-catering and villa holidays this summer.
TUI says it is expecting to see in a rise in group bookings and family holidays.
It is a trend we have reported on as we have looked at what next winter may look like.
Austrian Ski Association Postpones its General Assembly
The meeting of all the country’s regional ski associations, which was scheduled for June 2020, has been postponed by one year, to June 2021.
The decision was made by ÖSV President Rd. Peter Schröcksnadel and all of the Presidents of the regional ski associations.
This includes all elections for official positions, including the roles of the ÖSV President and Vice Presidents.
All elected officials will remain in their offices until next year.
As the UK relaxes some coronavirus lockdown rules further, here’s a reminder of how to socialise within the new guidelines from today.
People can meet in groups of up to six people in outdoor spaces like parks or private gardens – as long as you remain two metres (six feet) apart.
Members of two different households – up to eight people – can meet outdoors if they maintain social distancing.
People from two different households can meet each other outdoors while maintaining social distancing.
In Northern Ireland:
Groups of up to six people who are not in the same household can meet outdoors if they stay two metres apart.
It should also be pointed out the the government earlier said it would be relaxing restrictions further when the UK moved from Level Four to Level Three.
According to the government’s own criteria the country remains at Level Four.
A number of scientists on the SAGE committee have also cautioned against easing the lockdown measures in England, saying it is too soon.
Dreaming of Norway
Our friends over at Norway- Home of Skiing have once again shared their message for next winter.
“Normality is slowly returning in Norway and we’re really looking forward to welcoming you skiing with us next winter.”
It’s in our 2020/21 ski diary.
Chinese Paralympic Athletes for Beijing 2022 Back in Training
The training centres were closed during the pandemic but have now reopened.
124 athletes, from wheelchair curling, Para ice hockey, cross country skiing, Nordic combined, Alpine ski and snowboarding teams are now training.
The country won one gold medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.
Sunday 31st May
All of Australia’s Major Ski Resorts to Open Next Month
All of the major skiing and snowboarding resorts in New South Wales and Victoria will be open by the end of June.
Thredbo, Mount Buller.
Perisher, Hotham, Falls Creek.
Selwyn Snow Resort will not be able to open due the severe damage caused by the bush fires earlier this year.
They have been making the announcement over recent days as we have already reported on PlanetSKI:
Our report contains all the details of the social distancing arrangements and the various rules and regulations.
New Zealand is also preparing to fire up its lifts and people are looking forward to the skiing and snowboarding season.
We reported earlier on the situation:
The latest to announce an opening date is Mt Ruapehu that is planning to start its season on July 1st.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive, Jono Dean, has said the Covid-19 pandemic means winter 2020 “will not look like a normal winter at Mt Ruapehu”.
“We were able to have limited maintenance staff working on mountain preparing the ski areas when we moved to Alert Level 3, and the numbers were increased at Alert Level 2,” Dean said.
“We are now preparing to open both Turoa and Whakapapa Ski areas on July 1,2020.
“There is still a lot of work to be completed to make Mt Ruapehu a safe and healthy place for our guests and staff, and obviously still some unknowns in the mix regarding alert levels and required protocols at time of opening.”
Lift tickets will be available online and there will be less lifts open after the lockdown prevented them bringing in overseas staff.
“It hasn’t been an easy few months for them or our company, but we’re really pleased to be able to confirm winter 2020 will go ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming you here soon,” added Jono Dean.