Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
12th September 2020
Last modified on September 19th, 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 19th September
Ryanair Fears Further Cuts to Winter Flights
The airline is to cut its October capacity by a further 20% and expects more to follow across the winter months.
Ryanair blamed the cuts on “continuous changes in EU government travel restrictions and policies, many of which are introduced at short notice, which undermine consumers’ willingness to make forward bookings”.
“While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from Nov to Mar), if current trends and EU Governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period.”
A Live Snake as Face Covering!
Here at PlanetSKI our editor, James Cove, has two face coverings.
They reflect his interests.
It seems a man in Manchester also has a face covering that reflects his interests.
He boarder a bus with the snake round his face and most passengers thought it was a mask until they saw it moving.
The story was reported on the BBC this week.
A Transport for Greater Manchester spokesperson said that while there was a small degree of interpretation that can be applied to the rules concerning face coverings on public transport, “we do not believe it extends to the use of snakeskin – especially when still attached to the snake.”
The BBC posted the image from PA Media.
Crystal Mountain Introduces Hi-Tech System for Chairlift Access That Will Help Covid-19 Rules
The resort in Washington USA is installing RFID (radio frequency identification device) to ticketing and gate systems for chairlift access.
The improvements will be in place for the 2020-2021 winter season, getting skiers and snowboarders on the slopes safer and faster.
With this new system, guests will be able to purchase lift tickets online and receive an RFID card that allows them to reload lift tickets or season passes onto that same card via their mobile phones or computers.
“This is just one of the new improvements that will enhance the guest experience and guest safety at the resort this winter,” said the chief operating officer, John Melcher.
“It will maintain safer distancing by reducing queuing at ticket windows. And that’s important today.”
It will also help skiers and snowboarders load onto chairlifts quicker and more efficiently, which reduces the amount of time spent waiting in lift lines.
Friday 18th September
Changes To World Cup Ski Racing Calendar Announced
The International Ski Federation has finalised the details for this winter’s World Cup alpine races with a host of changes made due to Covid-19.
It had already been announced that the opening races in Soelden, Austria, were being brought forward by a week and that the entire North America alpine programme had been axed for this winter.
Now the impact on the rest of the calendar is clear.
The opening World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland in November, is one of the events affected.
The women will have two slalom races there on 21st and 22nd November but the men’s race will not go ahead. It will be re-scheduled to later in the season.
Among the other casualties is the New Year’s Day parallel event, due to be held in Davos, Switzerland.
It has been postponed until 1st January, 2022.
For full details, see our separate story:
WHO Repeats Warnings to Europe as More Restrictions Loom
The World Health Organization warns of a “very serious situation”.
The UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands are all expected to announce new restrictions.
Spain – In Madrid officials have warned that the regional healthcare system is coming under serious pressure from Covid-19 patients.
France – New measures are expected for major cities such as Lyon and Nice.
There were 300,000 new cases last week with the numbers exceeding those seen during the first peak in March.
“Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region,” said the WHO.
Italy has ‘Covid-Free’ Flights
Two of Alitalia’s seven daily Rome-Milan services will be reserved for passengers who test negative for coronavirus.
There is a rapid testing unit at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
Alternatively, people need to be tested 72-hours before the flight and produce a certificate that they are covid-free.
If successful, could be rolled out to other domestic and international routes in the hope of allowing air travel to recover and luring back passengers.
Fiumicino’s testing unit has been running for a month already.
It currently offers passengers from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain a nasal swab on arrival.
The result comes in just half an hour, which they show at the airport exit.
Italy has moved from Europe’s first epicentre of the pandemic to a pioneer of airport testing.
Gatwick Introduces Ultraviolet Disinfecting Security Tray
It will be rolled out on eight lanes in Gatwick’s North Terminal – six for passengers and two for staff – by the end of this month.
It follows a trial in July that has proved successful.
The system uses short-wavelength UV-C light that is effective against coronaviruses, including Covid-19.
The radiation changes the structure of their genetic material and prevents the viral particles from replicating.
“This new system has proven itself to be extremely reliable and provides a really high degree of reassurance as every single passenger and staff member using the system will have a tray that has only just been disinfected,” said the Gatwick Chief Operating Officer, Adrian Witherow.
“As an airport, we will continue to explore innovative health solutions like this that reduce the spread of coronaviruses and other infections.”
Thursday 17th September
WHO Warns of Serious Situation in Europe as UK Warns of the Winter Ahead
The number of weekly coronavirus cases in Europe has exceeded the infections reported when the pandemic first peaked in the continent in March says the World Health Organisation.
“We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” said the WHO Europe director, Hans Kluge.
He said the figures this month should serve as a “wake-up call” for European governments.
The UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has warned of a difficult winter ahead.
He said that winter is always a “stretching time” but the coming one presents “particular” challenges because of coronavirus.
He says the government had allocated another £2.7bn to the NHS to support it in winter months.
The World Health Organisation has urged countries not to shorten the quarantine period for people who have been exposed to coronavirus.
It recommends two weeks.
The UK has a 14-day period but France is reportedly reducing its isolation time from 14 days to seven.
French health experts there say the majority of people find it too difficult to isolate for a whole two weeks.
They also claim this is when people are most likely to be infectious.
BA Calls for Testing at Airports
The CEO of BA, Alex Cruz, said the coronavirus pandemic had devastated the business with people still afraid of travelling.
“This is something that is not just going to go away,” he said to MPs on the Transport Select Committee.
He also spoke about covid-19 testing at airports.
“It is incredibly important that we reach a testing regime of some sort as quickly as possible, so that we can reduce that quarantine time to the minimum possible.”
He said the airline was facing “a very uncertain future” and that it was “focused on its survival right now”.
“People need to get flying again,” he said.
Luxury UK Ski Operator to Continue with Ski Chalets
While the UK’s biggest ski tour operator Crystal Ski Holidays has axed its entire chalet programme, the luxury brand Consensio will continue to sell chalet holidays to the French Alps this winter.
It won’t be much consolation if you’re looking for a budget holiday to the slopes.
But if your pockets are deep you can still enjoy the traditional chalet holiday with Consensio Chalets.
The company has made some changes to its operations with what it describes as its ‘safe, contactless chalet service and flexible booking conditions’.
The chalets will, it says, still come with a dedicated team of staff but, for this winter only, it will be a ‘fully contactless service.
Read more here:
New Zealand has Worst Recession in Years
New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades, following strict measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s ski resorts have seen virtually zero international visitors, and restrictions in Auckland on the north island have harmed the resorts on the south island.
The country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June. .
However the government hopes its pandemic response will lead to a quick recovery.
The nation of nearly five million was briefly declared virus free after a swift and strict lockdown.
It has had 25 deaths.
Wednesday 16th September
TUI UK Promises Customers Coronavirus Refunds By End of September
TUI UK, whose brands include Crystal Ski Holidays and TUI Lakes & Mountain, has promised that all its customers who have had holidays cancelled due to coronavirus will be refunded by the end of this month.
The consumer organisation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has had thousands of complaints from TUI customers that they did not get their money back within 14 days as they should have done under the Package Travel Regulations.
The CMA says the vast majority of people have already now either received their money or rebooked their holidays.
It says TUI engaged constructively with its investigation.
TUI says any outstanding refund requests will be paid by 30th September and anyone with unused credit notes can also choose to convert them to a refund which will be paid within 14 days.
The commitment applies to all TUI UK brands that sell package holidays. As well as Crystal Ski Holidays and TYU Lakes & Mountains they include First Choice Holidays, Skytours, TUI Scene and Marella Cruises.
TUI UK will also report regularly to the CMA over the coming year on the time it has taken to refund customers
“The CMA understands that the pandemic has created extraordinary pressure for travel companies, including TUI UK,” it says in a news release issued today.
“However, customers who had their holidays cancelled because of coronavirus must be treated fairly and receive their refunds promptly.
“It is essential that that all businesses comply with consumer protection law so that people are not being left out of pocket. The CMA published guidance for businesses earlier this year to help them understand their legal obligations.”
The CMA has written to more than 100 package holiday businesses to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law and says it has opened investigations into a number of other tour operators.
“It’s absolutely essential that people have trust and confidence when booking package holidays and know that if a cancellation is necessary as a result of coronavirus, businesses will give them a full, prompt refund,” said Andrea Coscelli. The CMA’s Chief Executive.
“The CMA’s action ensures that TUI UK customers will get their refunds by the end of the month.
“The CMA is continuing to investigate package holiday firms in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. If we find that businesses are not complying with consumer protection law, we will not hesitate to take further action.”
Woman Accused of Infecting At Least 22 People in German Ski Resort
A 26-year-old American woman has been accused of spreading coronavirus around the Bavarian ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
A report in The Guardian says the woman allegedly drank in pubs and bars, including one where a karaoke event was taking place, despite being told to quarantine.
She had been showing symptoms of the virus following her return from a holiday in Greece.
The woman, who has not been identified, works at a hotel resort for US forces stationed in Germany.
The newspaper says at least 22 US citizens based at the hotel have become infected and the hotel has been forced to close for two weeks.
All other pubs and restaurants in the ski town have had their opening hours restricted and the numbers of people allowed to gather has been reduced.
According to local authorities in the Bavarian ski town, the woman was tested on 8th September and went out the same evening, ignoring instructions to quarantine. The next day she received a positive test.
She could now be fined.
Read the full story in The Guardian
Mammoth Mountain Announces Plans For Winter
Ski resorts are finalising their plans for a winter season like no other and the latest to give details of how it will operate is the California ski area of Mammoth.
It is investing more than $1 million specifically on Covid-19 prevention measures.
“With Mother Nature’s blessing, Mammoth Mountain will open for skiing and riding on November 14,” says the President and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Brownlie.
“There are endless questions regarding what winter at Mammoth will look like, and while we don’t have all of the answers yet, we’re just excited as you at the prospect of getting back on snow.
“We do know that social distancing and mask usage are vital to staying safe and staying open.
“As has been the case all summer, masks will be required in lift lines, gondolas, lodges, shuttle buses and anywhere within six feet of others.”
Brownlie says the $1m Covid-19 related enhancements will include more “grab and go” food and drink offerings, additional outdoor seating and quick transaction technology.
“With the right conditions, Mammoth is as good as it gets for being social distanced.
“At present, we plan to prioritize access for season pass holders. We will control resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding by tightly regulating the number of daily lift tickets, which will be available by advance purchase only.
“Walk-up sales of lift tickets will no longer be available, allowing us to further manage capacity and reduce contact points in our lodges.”
Mammoth’s summer operations have been halted by wildfires that have been devastating large swathes of California.
For more information on Mammoth’s 20/21 operations, please visit MammothMountain.com/COVID
Melbourne Lockdown Could Ease Soon
The Australian city of Melbourne in Victoria looks set for a phased lifting of its strict lockdown after the number of cases reduced.
Victoria was hit hard by the pandemic and its ski resorts were forced to close:
Melbourne has now recorded a 14-day average case total of less than 50.
If it remains the same on 28th September, the lockdown will be eased.
The BBC reports that a curfew will remain in place and people will still only be allowed to move in a 5km (3 mile) radius of their home.
Jackson Hole in Wyoming is Latest Resort to Unveil Covid-19 Policy
Jackson Hole is modifying much of its operations this winter to accommodate the need for physical distancing to reduce crowding and to keep everyone safe.
Jackson Hole will be implementing the following:
- Reduced capacity in each of their restaurants, supplemented with heated tents and additional tables for dining.
- Reduced crowding in the base area through queue management and maze configurations, along with increased lift speeds when possible to move guests more rapidly uphill.
- Commencing with the holidays and continuing as long as necessary and when possible, JH will start the Teewinot, Sweetwater and Après Vous lifts at 8:30 a.m., subject to snow control efforts, so that our guests can move out of the base area earlier and enjoy more time on the snow.
- The Aerial Tram will operate but at a significantly reduced capacity on a first-come, first-served basis. For additional access to Rendezvous Bowl and the backcountry, we will introduce a boot pack from the top of the Sublette lift.
Daily Capacity Limits
The resort has established a maximum daily capacity for guests.
It will limit the number of tickets available for purchase each day to enable sufficient physical distancing in the base area, buildings and facilities to keep guests safe.
“The resort’s priority is to create an environment that protects the health and safety of their guests and employees with the baseline requirements to wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing,” said Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Jackson is one of the most iconic resorts in North America and a firm favourite of ours at PlanetSKI.
We last visited a few years back on a USA road trip:
Tuesday 15th September
SLIDE 21 Set for Next January
The UK snowsports trade show takes place at the Telford International Centre January 19th – 21st.
It will follow all Covid-19 rules and regulations.
“The venue at Telford is committed to the safe running of shows and we, as organisers, will be complying with best practice every step of the way and guiding exhibitors and visitors through the process,” said the organisers, Snowsport Industries of Great Britain, SIGB.
“Whatever best practice guidelines are in place at the time of the show, we’ll be complying with them and assisting exhibitors and visitors to do likewise.”
Should the show be cancelled for any reason, the SIGB will reimburse 75% of the stand costs paid by exhibitors.
PlanetSKI last visited Slide back in 2016, see here for what the event is all about:
Confirmed exhibitors for Slide 2021:
Alpspec / Atomic / Bollé Brands / Dakine / Dare 2b / Dynafit / Dynastar, Lange UK / Falke UK / Fall-Line Skiing Magazine / Four Corners UK / Full Stack Supply Co / Groove Armada Ltd / Head, Tyrolia / Helly Hansen / Hestra, Killtec / Julbo / K2 Ski / K2 Snowboard / Line, Full Tilt / MDV Sports UK / Mycoal / Never Summer / Noble Custom, Ortovox / Oakley / Odlo / Patagonia / Planks Clothing / Protest / Reima, Henjl, Ziener, Hyrdo Flask / Reusch UK / Ride / Rossignol / Salomon / Schöffel / Sidas UK / Ski Bitz / Tecnica, Blizzard, Nordica
World Travel Market Cancelled
The event was to have been held at the ExCel in London at the beginning of November.
It is the biggest travel industry event of its kind and usually sees tens of thousands of people from across the travel world, including the ski industry.
It has been taking place since 1980.
“We have worked tirelessly to organise a physical show, but the increasing number of travel restrictions and the uncertainty around the world means it will be impractical for many overseas visitors to attend in person,” said WTM London Senior Director, Simon Press.
It is being replaced by a three-day virtual event.
“We want to keep the global travel conversation alive and help deliver new connections as well as offering a wide range of online business opportunities,” said a statement from WTM.
“We will address the impact the global health pandemic has had on the travel and tourism industry and discuss a road map to recovery, identifying the trends and innovation shaping the future of the industry and show you path that lies ahead.”
London City Airport Cuts 239 jobs
The airport was closed for nearly three months from March 25th.
It is open but flights are greatly reduced.
Swiss uses it to the airports in Switzerland that served the Alps.
“We…believe that the difficult decisions we are taking now will enable the airport to bounce back in a better shape when growth returns,” said Chief executive Robert Sinclair.
A third of all roles at the airport will go, as part of “crucial restructuring plans”.
Biodegradable Facemasks from French Company
Géochanvre is mass producing masks that are compostable, with the elastic band able to be recycled.
The mask is made from hemp and after being buried in the soil it will have completely vanished after three months.
Around 1.5 million of the masks, which cost £0.92 have so far been been sold across the world.
There is growing concern about the environmental impact of the billions of face masks that are being produced and disposed of.
Monday 14th September
Austria Extends Rules on Face Masks & Group Meetings
People in the alpine country will be required to wear face masks in all shops and public buildings from Monday.
Face masks will be compulsory in school corridors, but not in classrooms.
They are already compulsory on public transport and in “essential” shops, such as supermarkets and post offices.
There are also new rules on public gatherings which could potentially affect ski resorts.
Some glacier resorts in the Tirol are due to open in a few weeks time.
Events without assigned seating, including private parties, will now be limited to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
The limit for spectator events with assigned seating has been reduced to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.
“It is getting serious again. The numbers have kept rising in recent weeks,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurtz.
Austria has reported almost 32,000 coronavirus cases and 750 deaths so far.
Some glacier resorts in the Tirol have released their Covid-10 policies and are preparing to open in under two weeks:
· New Zealand will lift coronavirus measures across the country from 21 September – although restrictions will remain in place in Auckland, which has recorded a spike in cases.
· In Italy – the first country to be seriously struck by the pandemic in Europe – children are returning to school for the first time in six months. PlanetSKI was recently in the Aosta Valley:
Sunday 13th September
2021 Snow Test Set for Kuhtai with Covid-19 Regulations
The 2020 test in Pila in the Aosta Valley in early March was one of the early casualties of the spread of cornonavirus and was called off.
“There is a need for some up-to-date testing and a return to the mountains for brands, retailers and the media,” said the organisers.
“Plans for Kühtai will take into account the impact of any guidelines that may be in place next year”.
The 2021 test will provisionally take place 1-5 March in Kühtai, Austria.
PlanetSKI was in Pila in Italy last winter as the tests were cancelled due to coronavirus.
And we reported from a hastily arranged alternative test in Scotland.
Aspen Closes 50 Staff Positions
The US ski company usually employs more than 3,000 full-time and seasonal employees at the height of winter.
The uncertainties caused by Covid-19 are to blame.
“Many of the nearly 50 positions affected are already vacant or causing early retirements, but there are nine people whose jobs have been eliminated and those have been difficult decisions and discussions,” said Skico President and CEO, Mike Kaplan
The story is covered in The Aspen Times.
It is hoped there will be no further job losses but “we’ll need to stay flexible given the ever shifting COVID landscape,” said Kaplan.
Full details of thew the ski area will operate will be released shortly but there will be:
– Tents will be acquired to offset some of the reduced on-mountain restaurant capacity
– Outdoor heaters will be added to decks and shop entrances where customers will be waiting
– Technology will be utilized for pre-purchase of lift tickets and dining orders.
Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we have reported its impact.
We have updated daily since the pandemic began.
All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:
September 6th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 9th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports