Coronavirus Impact On Skiing & Snowboarding
7th June 2020
Last modified on June 16th, 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
Saturday, June 13th
Austria to Cut VAT for Food & Drink Sold Restaurants & Hotel to 5%
It should help boost summer tourism to the Alps.
The cut includes the culture sector and will last until the end of the year.
“We will implement a reduction of value-added tax in gastronomy (cafes, bars and restaurants), in culture sectors and in the area of publishing,” said Finance Minister.
Food and drink sold in hotels would also be included.
The government has already announced a VAT cut for non-alcoholic drinks in cafes, bars and restaurants to 10% from 20% as of July 1.
EU rules do not allow a VAT cut on alcoholic drinks and the Austrian government is lobbying Brussels to relax the regulations.
Friday, June 12th
Icelandair Flies in Covid-19 Times
Take care – take flight. Here’s what your new travel experience will look like, when you’re ready to take to the skies again. We want to assure you that we are well equipped for the new travel reality, and ready when you are. https://t.co/fJjt9294UJ pic.twitter.com/7nMB4s2AvH
— Icelandair (@Icelandair) June 12, 2020
Cervinia Set to Open for Summer Skiing
The Italian resort is planning to open on June 20th.
It gives access to the glacier ski area in Zermatt.
And as well as skiing and snowboarding there is plenty more on offer in summer in Cervinia in the Aosta Valley.
We are planning to be there in August, if coronavirus restrictions allow.
This weekend the Stelvio glacier summer ski area in Lombardy opens.
The Snow Centre Hopes to Reopen in Early July
“We have no confirmed opening date yet, and will continue to follow government guidelines and announcements, however we hope we may be able to open in July,” said the managing director, Ian Brown, in a statement.
There will be a one-way flow throughout the centre in Hemel Hempstead.
There will be reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, pre-booked sessions, a slicker checking in process, a cashless centre and a revamped hygiene regime.
“As speculation continues to grow about leisure facilities being able to re open, my team and I have been working hard behind the scenes to create a safe environment in The Snow Centre, so you will be able to return and enjoy the snow again following our closure,” added Ian Brown.
Group lessons will not be available, but families can learn together.
The staff will have PPE, training and will have temperature checks prior to starting to work each day.
All the UK indoor snow slopes closed as lockdown was implemented:
Here’s a taste of what skiing and snowboarding may look like:
Thursday, June 11th
Finland Lifts Some Border Restrictions but Not Ones with Sweden
People will be free to travel to and from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Restrictions will remain on the western border with Sweden as well as on the eastern border with Russia.
The government says public gatherings of more than 500 people will be allowed from the beginning of July if social distancing can be enforced.
Sweden, with a population of 10m, has had 48, 814 recorded cases covid-19 with 4,795 deaths.
Finland has a population of 5m ad has had 7,064 reported cases and 325 deaths.
It did not go into a lockdown and the government in Finland has said it will not be “giving up the restrictions yet” with its neighbour.
It did not close its ski resorts as they closed down across Europe and North America.
Gatwick Prepares to Open North Terminal
It has been closed since April 1st.
It will reopen on June 15th with covid-19 safety measures in place.
* Passengers required to wear a face covering within the airport with Gatwick staff mandated to wear face coverings in passenger-facing areas of the terminals. Face mask vending machines will also be made available at the airport.
* Encouraging good hand hygiene with ample, well signposted hand washing facilities and numerous hand sanitising stations – including touch-free models – throughout.
* Frequent, enhanced deep cleaning of common-use surfaces throughout the airport with dedicated teams visible to respond to any passenger concerns on cleanliness.
* Social distancing procedures in place at check in, security, gate rooms, seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops.
* Installation of Perspex screens throughout the terminals, including check in desks, and gate rooms.
Gatwick will now also increase its operating hours to 0600-22.00 as easyJet has announced that it is restarting flights from the North Terminal on 15 June alongside Wizz Air, Ryanair, Belavia, Vueling and Blue Island.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Having remained open throughout this pandemic the wellbeing and safety of our passengers and everyone that works at the airport remains our top priority.
“We have introduced a range of new social distancing and hygiene solutions to help this happen so we can all help protect each other when travelling through the airport. We want people to understand that airports and air travel is a safe environment in this COVID-19 travelling world.
“We are pleased to be in a position to re-open the North Terminal and we look forward to welcoming back easyJet as they restart flights alongside our other airlines.
“The recent Government announcement regarding the 14-day quarantine period for passengers arriving into the UK is, in our opinion, already having an impact on the start of air travel recovery. We accept the Government’s absolute priority is the protection of public health, but we continue to push for regular, country by country reviews of quarantine regulations, based on medical evidence.”
Wednesday, June 10th
Austria will open its borders to 31 countries from June 16th
The Austrian Alps is reopening for international tourism, with social distancing in place and strict covid-19 restrictions.
The UK will not be one of those countries, due to its high number of cases of coronavirus and its current position in battling the pandemic.
The border with Italy will also be opened, but there will be a partial travel warning for Lombardy.
See further details here: Austria opens its borders to 31 countries but not the UK.
Snowbird Tram Will Take 25 People when It Reopens
It normally caries 125 people but, with social distancing measures in place this summer, it will only take a fifth of that number when it opens on June 13th
“Before each trip, touch-point areas and handrails are disinfected,” said the resort in Utah, USA.
“All windows are open throughout the trip. Guests are required to use hand sanitizer prior to loading cabins at the base and top station.
“Maze configurations are set up to maximize social distancing when queuing.”
It is one of North America’s most iconic lifts.
It opened in 1971 and is a 1.6 mile journey rising 885m and takes 10-minutes.
France Raises Fines for People who Litter Facemasks
There’s already a fine of €68 for people who throw away a mask or a cigarette butt – that’s set to increase to €135 (£120).
It also applies to discarded gloves or other waste.
The Environmental Transition minister, Brune Poirson, said “waste thrown on the ground often finds its way in the ocean”.
Most medical face masks are made of polypropylene, a derivative of oil, which can take up to 450 years to degrade.
Tuesday, June 9th
Travel Firms Say Air Bridges To Be Introduced Later This Month
Travel companies say they’ve been given assurances that air bridges between the UK and several countries will be introduced at the end of the month.
Air bridges allow passengers from certain countries to fly between designated countries without going into quarantine.
The industry lobby group Quash Quarantine says it has received a private assurance from the UK Government that quarantine-free trips will be possible for travellers from certain countries by 29th June.
From yesterday, almost everyone arriving in the UK must go into quarantine and self-isolate at a nominated address for 14 days.
The measures came into force just as more ski resorts in the Alps began opening up for the summer.
Quash Quarantine, which represents 500 travel and hospitality companies, has threatened legal action against the quarantine.
Airlines, including British Airways, easyJet and Ryan Air are also intending to take the government to court, saying the mandatory quarantine will destroy businesses and jobs.
“We are still considering our options regarding legal action, including whether to join BA’s claim or launch our own action, but would prefer that 29th June is confirmed as soon as possible for the start of travel corridors,” said group member George Morgan-Grenfel.
Countries with low Covid-19 infection rates will be the first to have air bridges to the UK.
It’s thought they could include Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Australia.
Some Swiss Restaurants Add Covid-19 Charge
That’s according to a report on Swiss Radio.
It says some restauranteurs are trying to make up for lost earnings and compensate for the fewer number of customers they can serve due to social distancing.
They also have extra costs with facemasks for staff, hand sanitisers plus extra cleaning.
One restaurant in the canton of Aargau near Zurich is asking for an extra CHF 1.50 for a drink and CHF 3 for a meal.
It remains to be seen if other establishments in Switzerland or elsewhere in the mountains will introduce a so-called Covid-surcharge.
As seen in Bristol:
Monday, June 8th
New Zealand Out of Lockdown.
The country no longer had any active cases and the last known transmission of the virus was 17 days ago.
It is now on alert Level One.
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters she did “a little dance”.
The country is preparing to open its ski areas later this month as we reported earlier: New Zealand steps up winter preparations
Mt Hutt is the first resort to open and will fire up its lifts this Friday, June 12th.
NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson said the shift reduction to Level One would allow it to operate more “normally”.
Restrictions on the number of people in cafes, social distancing in ski lift queues and a requirement to only sharing chairlifts with people within your bubble would be lifted.
It will also allow sell more season passes to be sold.
Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas on Mt Ruapehu are scheduled to open on July 1st.
All southern ski fields received a solid base of snow following cold weather on the weekend.
Coronet Peak and Cardrona are due to open on June 26th.
Treble Cone is scheduled to open on June 27th
The manager of Cardrona and Treble Cone, Bridget Legnavsky, said to local media that the change to level one was great news.
“It’s going to make it far easier for us, especially when it comes to managing inside.”
New Zealand will remain closed to international visitors, but it is trying to set up an air bridge with Australia.
Australians are an important part of the ski market: Air bubble liking ski fields of Australia and New Zealand
“Our borders remain our first line of defence as we aim not to import the virus,” said Ardern.
“Borders remain closed, our managed isolation at the border will continue and it will be as important as ever as we know this is a potential pathway.
“And that is key because we don’t just want to move to level one, we want to stay there.”
The Prime Minister said that New Zealand would “certainly see cases again”, adding that “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort”
New Zealand closed its borders as early as 19 March, while there were still less than 30 confirmed cases.
Seven days later the country was put under a strict lockdown.
New infections dropped to almost zero in late April and the lockdown was gradually eased.
The country has had 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths.
The Perfect Covid-19 Hotel Room?
Open air hotel rooms are on offer around the ski resort of Toggenburg in eastern Switzerland.
They are the idea of Frank and Patrik Riklin, “there is probably no other place to enjoy a better ventilated room than this during summer in Switzerland.”
Zero Real Estate takes ‘hotel suites’, and places them in the breathtaking midst of the mountainscape.
There’s a check-in at the Hotel Alpenrose.
From there a personal butler escorts guests directly to the secluded Swiss spot.
If it rains you can retreat to shelters in nearby farm houses and barns.
Breakfast is delivered by a white-gloved butler.
And the cost?
295 Swiss francs per night – that’s £242.
Sunday, June 7th
Too Many People Heading to Beauty Spots in Scottish Mountains
Police have closed roads in a bid to avoid crowds swarming to popular spots as happened last weekend as lockdown restrictions were eased.
Loch Lomondside and Stirlingshire are off limits to day-trippers.
But despite the warnings some were seen at beauty spots on Saturday.
See here for this report on the BBC.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Closes Today
A lack of snow means the resort is calling it a day after it reopened on May 27th.
“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: A-Basin reopens for skiing and snowboarding.
We’ll be updating with a report on the final day of skiing in one of our favourite Colorado resorts later.
Vail Resorts down $140m due to Coronaviris but it expected greater losses
Vail Resorts closed its 34 North American ski areas on March 14th.
It then slashed costs, cut plans for capital upgrades, suspended cash dividends to shareholders, reduced salaries and furloughed staff.
Vail Resorts warned investors in mid-March that the COVID-19-related closures could reduce net income by $180 million to $200 million.
The company has $465 million in cash and about $600 million in available debt.
It is understood this is enough to fund operations for two years “even in the event of extended resort shutdowns.”
Vail Resorts will open its three Australian ski resorts towards the end of June.
The North American teams of Vail Resorts should gain useful operational insights into social-distancing and safety from the Australia experience.
Summer operations at the North American ski areas will open in late June or early July.
Whistler/Blackcomb has already said its glacier will not be opening for the traditional summer skiing this year.
The sale of next winter’s Epic Pass from Vail Resorts has been extended to September.
“We understand there may be situations where we have less guests, but we will still, of course, have the full mountain open with the full experience for them,” said the CEO of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, as he talked about next winter.
“We are not going to back off at all on what a guest would expect when they come to one of our resorts.”
Switzerland Reopens Cable Cars, Railways and Ski Lifts
The BBC has taken a special look at Grindelwald in Switzerland this weekend as it starts its summer tourist season.
The resort is promoting nature, open spaces and tranquility.
See the full report here on the BBC
Here are the earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we reported its impact and updated daily:
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports