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Covid-19 Cases Surge in Europe With Serious Worries for Start of Ski Season

The current numbers make grim reading with forecasts even worse. Resorts have coronavirus policies in place, and hopefully skiing can happen, just in a different way to normal. But perhaps not till 2021.

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The pandemic is spreading rapidly in many parts of Europe and the mountain regions are not exempt from the trend, or government restrictions.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron, has ordered a four-week lockdown.

It will affect all areas of France including the mountain regions.

The two ski resorts that were open, Les2Alpes and Tignes, have had to close with others planning to open in November forced to delay proceedings.

French ski resorts close and delay openings as country goes into second lockdown

If the current lockdown doesn’t have the desired impact it could be extended, with disastrous consequences for the start of the French ski season.

Resorts and skiers are becoming increasingly concerned.

Restrictions have been tightened, or look likely to be, in all the alpine countries

Many British skiers and snowboarders who have booked a holiday in December are being advised to move it to later in the season by some UK ski operators.

Quarantine regulations are proving a major obstacle with few willing to quarantine on arrival back in the UK.

Switzerland has just dropped its requirement for people coming from the UK to go into a 10-day quarantine, but 14-days is needed on the way back.

That is looking likely to change at the beginning of December, with the UK government hinting it may go down to a week.

It is a move in the right direction, but is not expected to kick-start the Xmas ski season for UK skiers and snowboarders.

The start to winter, with many resorts opening in around 6-weeks, will be a somewhat surreal affair.

It could be disrupted by the authorities if rules are flouted.

The Italian glacier resort of Cervinia opened parts of its ski area last weekend.

With huge queues for lift tickets and apparently some disregard to social distancing, it was ordered to close.

Cervinia, Italy

Cervinia, Italy

Other resorts have been watching closely and are very worried how the ski season may develop.

Bookings for next winter are sharply down, especially in December and the first part of January.

After that it is difficult to forecast what may happen, but some operators we have spoken to stress there is increased interest in the second half of the season and spring skiing.

The virus, though, is surging and scientists say we are only at the first part of the second wave with more to come.

France and Spain have become the first western European countries to record more than one million cases.

Coronavirus cases rise

Coronavirus cases rise

Other skiing nations have recorded their highest number of new infections since the start of the pandemic with deaths rising too.

Italy has recorded 205 fatalities in the past 24 hours.

The total number of deaths in Austria rose above 1,000 last Tuesday.

In Switzerland cases are surging.

Sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in Switzerland

Switzerland is seeing the highest number of new cases per head of population of any alpine nation with 471 per 100,000 as measured over a 7-day period.

France is 399, Spain 272, Italy 216 and Austria 209.

The UK is at 239.

On Friday Verbier opens the Lacs des Vaux area in the resort.

Verbier set to open on Friday as Covid-19 surges in Switzerland

Lac des Vaux, Verbier, Switzerland

Lac des Vaux, Verbier, Switzerland

Fingers crossed it goes well and there are not the scenes witnessed in Cervinia last weekend.

If you have been following our weekly coronavirus rolling blog you will know of all the new measures and restrictions coming into place:

October 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

Facemasks in Zermatt

Facemasks in Zermatt

The current situation for snowsports is not pleasant, but it is a sad reality.

So, where does that leave us for the approaching winter and the ski season?

In very, very tricky waters.

However, when things do improve there is little doubt that there will be a huge demand from people wanting to go skiing and snowboarding.

There will likely be fewer people able to go due to economic circumstances, but those that can will be chomping at the bit.

There is little doubt that skiing and snowboarding is not under any long-term threat.

It remains one the finest ways to pass one’s time with skiers and snowboarders a hardy and determined lot.

Some, including us at PlanetSKI, are predicting boom times when that happens.

It just doesn’t look like happening anytime soon.

The optimistic think it may be this winter, while some are already looking at the season of 2021/22.

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