Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding
14th June 2020
Last modified on June 20th, 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 20th
Cervinia Opens for Summer Skiing and Snowboarding
The latest summer ski resort in the Alps set to open is Cervinia in the Aosta Valley in Italy.
It’s linking lifts to the glacier in Zermatt start to roll on Saturday.
“We start again, we can’t wait to welcome you again on our lifts,” said the resort ahead of the opening.
The ski area will be open to 27th September for summer glacier skiing.
Do check back for a full report later…
Relaxation of UK Quarantine Rules
Italy is one of the countries being mentioned for a relaxation of the current rules.
Others include France, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
That would give access to both the Alps and the Pyrenees over the summer.
The UK is planning to announce on 29th June that it has secured a number of “travel corridors”.
A travel corridor would mean that two people travelling in both directions between two countries would not have to self-isolate for 14-days.
July 4th is being mentioned as a start date, but there is no confirmation.
The quarantine may remain throughout the summer for people arriving from countries that do not have a so-called travel corridor with the UK.
Covid-19 Tests at UK Airports?
People arriving at UK airports could soon be able to have a test for coronavirus.
It would cost £140and the result would be known in 5 hours and could enable people not to have to go into a 14-day quarantine in the test is negative.
Vienna airport in Austria has been offering a covid-19 test since May.
Greece is also already offering the service.
A trial is expected to begin within two weeks at a major UK airport.
Under the proposals, passengers would have the test after passport control and self-isolate at home until they received the result.
It’s thought hundreds of thousands of tests could be carried out per day.
Friday, June 19th
Nevis Range to Re-open in July
The ski resort near Fort William in Scotland is getting ready open for summer activities next month as the Scottish Government prepares to ease lockdown restrictions.
Staff have been working to put new safety measures in place, including thermal screening, increased cleaning procedures and social distancing.
Opening day is expected to be Wednesday, 15th July.
Nevis Range has announced it will be making some redundancies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s also said that the lockdown came at the worst time for Scottish Snowsports enthusiasts who would have otherwise been able to enjoy some of the best spring conditions in years at Nevis Range.
A good amount of snow fell in March and there was more than enough coverage to have offered skiing and snowboarding well into May.
See here for our full report on the Nevis Range opening.
Death Toll in Sweden Passes 5,000
The number of people with coronavirus who have died in Sweden has now reached 5,053.
There are 56,043 confirmed cases.
As ski resorts across the world closed back in March those in Sweden remained open.
It did not close its ski resorts as others closed down across Europe and North America.
The man behind the policy, Anders Tegnell, acknowledged earlier this month that it had resulted in too many deaths.
Sweden has a population of 10m.
Its Scandinavian neighbours, Finland & Norway both have populations of around 5m and they imposed strict lockdowns and tough border restrictions.
They have had 326 and 244 deaths respectively.
USA Ski Season of 2019/20 Was Set for Bumper Winter … then Pandemic Struck
It was heading for its fourth busiest winter on record before Covid-19 closed ski resorts across the country in mid-March. That’s according to figures just released.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) says the number of skier and snowboarder visits* to USA resorts in the 2019-20 season totalled 51.1 million.
That’s down almost 14% on the previous year.
But, the NSAA says, had the season continued along the same track as before the pandemic struck, it would have been one of the best years for visitors.
The 2019-20 winter was on course to be the fourth best season since NSAA began its surveys in 1978-79 and was following on from a good 2018-19.
Read more here on PlanetSKI.
Thursday, June 18th
FIS Releases Covid-19 Guidelines for Event Organisers
The International Ski Federation has given details of the measures which must be in place to organise safe events.
The new guidelines are aimed at ensuring the highest priority is given to the health and safety of athletes, team members, officials, volunteers, service providers, broadcasters, media and spectators.
“The Covid-19 outbreak will require the integration of additional measures to keep everyone safe in connection with an event,” FIS says.
The FIS Covid-19 Prevention Guidelines for Event Organisers give advice relevant specifically for FIS events based on information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical Department, as well as the best practices of FIS, its technical staff, the Medical Committee and other International Federations.
They give help on the processes required for the care and welfare of everyone attending an event.
Organisers will need to ensure all participants have access to immediate medical care and that preventative and mitigation measures are in place to stop transmission of infection and minimise risk.
The Local Organising Committees are expected to work with the responsible health authorities and keep updated with the latest developments and regulations.
More information can be found on the FIS Information Hub COVID-19
Neilson To Cut UK Workforce By A Third
Neilson Active Holidays is reported to be cutting almost a third of its staff at its UK head office.
The company, which sells ski and summer holidays, is to make 28 people redundant, according to the industry news site, TravelMole.
“The impact of Covid-19 has been worse than any of us could have imagined, leading to a total shutdown across the travel sector,” Chief Executive David Taylor told TravelMole.
“My team has responded magnificently to this crisis as we have dealt with the repatriation of thousands of customers in March and subsequently cancelling, rearranging and refunding the bookings of thousands more.
“Many staff working through this crisis have taken pay cuts and many more staff have been patiently waiting at home whilst on furlough with their fingers crossed that this crisis will pass.”
Neilson says it has taken action over the last few months to safeguard the future of the company and jobs but the severe downturn has made redundancies unavoidable.
Read more on TravelMole.
Wednesday, June 17th
Norwegian to Resume Flights with UK
On July 1st there will be flights from Gatwick and Edinburgh to Oslo.
London to Oslo will operate seven times a week and there will be two flights a week from Edinburgh.
There are currently tough border restrictions in place, with Norway only letting in foreign tourists from Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
There are some exemptions such as essential workers, plus those that have family in Norway or own a property.
It is though a limited move in the direction of freeing up travel.
The country is judged to have done well in dealing with the pandemic and has had 8,660 confirmed cases with 242 deaths.
Here at PlanetSKI we are interested in the resumption of flights to and from Norway as it is one of the first ski areas we are planning to visit next winter.
Norway – Home of Skiing is reminding people of the winter ahead:
New protective safety measures introduced to reduce the risk of coronavirus include:
- Travellers six years and older must use a facemask
- Passengers will be asked to keep their distance during boarding and disembarkation
- Hand luggage should be placed under the seat in front to minimise queuing in the cabin. Hand luggage that is too big to be placed under the seat in front needs to be checked in beforehand.
- Passengers will be seated with as much distance between them as possible. The mid row seats will be the last to be occupied. Passengers and families travelling together will be seated together.
- There is no catering on board to minimise the contact between our customers and crew.
- Aircraft are being disinfected.
NZ Military to Run Border & Quarantine Service after Two People who Travelled from UK Test Positive
The military in New Zealand is to run the country’s border and quarantine operations after two people who were allowed out early later tested positive for coronavirus.
The two infected women from the same family had travelled from the UK after receiving special permission to visit a dying parent.
New Zealand had previously gone 24 days with no new infections.
Last Friday the first ski resort to open for the winter, Mt Hutt, was able to do so with no restrictions after New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1 and announced it was coronavirus-free.
Border restrictions are still in place with only New Zealand citizens and essential workers allowed into the country.
The NZ Health Minister, David Clark, said the correct checks had not been carried out on the two women.
He has suspended compassionate exemptions to the quarantine rules.
The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the cases represented “an unacceptable failure of the system”.
She added that border controls must be rigorous and disciplined, and needed to have the confidence of all the people in New Zealand.
The two women who came from the UK via Australia had not been tested on the third day after their arrival or before they left quarantine as per the government’s rules.
They were granted a compassionate exemption to leave managed isolation in Auckland to visit their dying parent in Wellington.
Health Minister David Clark has temporarily suspended all exemptions after the incident.
Tuesday, June 16th
Ski Season In Doubt In South Africa
South Africa’s only ski resort, Tiffindell in the Eastern Cape, is facing an uncertain winter because of the pandemic.
The ski area is at its busiest from June to August.
At peak times it houses 150 guests and 350 day visitors.
But right now it is unable to welcome skiers and snowboarders.
The lockdown in South Africa currently does not allow travel for leisure purposes.
“We have prepped really hard for the current winter season, a snowmaker Mike Visser told Shiraaz Mohamed at the Daily Maverick.
“It’s devastating that we are not able to open and operate, especially since the weather is so favourable for snowmaking. As employees of the company, we all feel really worried about job security. It is definitely a blow if we are not going to open.”
Read the full story in this photo essay.
Monday, June 15th
Alpine Nations Lift Border Controls as Covid-19 Restrictions Eased
France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany ease controls. Italy did so last week as countries to try to restart tourist travel.
The European Commission encouraged all internal border restrictions to be lifted from Monday and some are taking the advice.
A holiday in the Alps might be the perfect break after the pandemic passes with its focus on the outdoors, health, the environment and open spaces.
The alpine resorts certainly hope so.
EasyJet Flights Resume Today
It is mainly routes with the UK but the airline is also flying to a handful of European cities in France, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal.
All passengers and cabin crew will be required to wear masks when travelling.
No food will be served on board and passengers will be offered hand sanitiser and wipes.
The airline has promised that planes will be regularly cleaned in between services and disinfected.
“I am really pleased that we will be returning to flying in the middle of June,” said the EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren.
“These are small and carefully planned steps that we are taking to gradually resume operations.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that, when more restrictions are lifted, the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand, while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want.
The airline has joined up with BA and Ryanair to take legal action against the British government in a bid to overturn its 14-day quarantine rules.
Sunday, June 14th
Vail Resorts Aims to Build on Covid-19 Restrictions in its Australian Resorts
It runs three resorts in Australia and, as they prepare to open, the company says it will learn lessons for what it may need to do in its North American ski areas next winter.
Vail Resorts runs resorts across the USA and Canada including the major ones of Vail, Breckenridge, Whistler, Park City, Beaver Creek, Heavenly and many others.
In Australia it operates Perisher, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek.
We wrote about Australia opening its resorts amid covid-19 restrictions earlier on PlanetSKI, Ski season set to get underway in Australia
It’s CEO, Rob Katz, has been speaking to Wall Street analysts about what lessons the experience in Australia may teach Vail Resorts for its other operations.
Other resorts in North America and in Europe will be watching closely
It “will give us some very unique insight that we’ll be able to use as we plan the North American ski season next year,” he said.t Local
Vail Resorts must focus on what he described as “pinch points”.
“Certainly inside of our restaurants, in lift lines and certainly as people enter the resort.
“Our job will be to make sure that we can maintain social distancing while still giving people a great experience,” Katz said.
He also spoke about the number of people at a mountain resort at any one time, describing how Vail Resorts is preparing for crowds.
“I think the two places that we’re certainly well aware of potential capacity constraints: one is on loading lifts and gondolas and to the extent that, you know, you’re maintaining social distancing between unrelated groups, right, that could limit the number of people that you can put on a chair, put on a gondola at any one time.
“And that’s certainly something that will likely be a part of the plan in Australia. Unclear whether that will still be necessary next winter season, but that’s one potential constraint,” Katz said.
He acknowledged there may be a drop in the number of skiers and snowboarders during the ski season, but he pledged that Vail Resorts would open the terrain at the mountain resorts as the firm would any other year unless there are mandated reasons.
He said, “We are not going to pull back at all on what guests would expect when they come to one of our resorts.”
“It’s incumbent upon us, I think, to, to keep our mountains open when we can open them, based on weather conditions and, obviously, restrictions from health or whatever, COVID-type things.
“But apart from that, no, we do open our resorts and we do open our terrain. And we want people who come to get the full experience … and that’s something we are going to do for next year,” Katz said.
“If you look back to like the ’08-’09 recession, we maintained full terrain, full resorts open, even though we had lower demand. Now it’s possible that with COVID we could see even lower demand. … But we think we can absolutely still be profitable once we get into the season,” Katz said.
Here are our 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