Verbier Opens as Covid-19 Surges in Switzerland
29th October 2020
Last modified on November 2nd, 2020
The resort is following all the regulations and has obtained the “Clean and safe” label in collaboration with Switzerland Tourism. Some question the wisdom of opening as Switzerland, and the Valais Canton, is one of the Covid-19 hotspots in Europe.
The resort has opened its Lac des Vaux slopes on Friday 30th October.
Depending on the snow conditions the resort will then open the slope from Les Attelas down to Les Ruinettes.
The rest of the Verbier ski area will follow from early December.
The lifts will be open only on weekends in November and then daily from 5th December.
It opened with good conditions and blue sky.
One of our regular readers and occasional reporters in Verbier is Guy Ordway from the ski school, Element, that is based in the resort.
“Police were checking in at Medran in the resort and La Chable in the valley.
“Everyone social distancing and wearing masks to buy passes,” he said.
“Pretty different from Cervinia. Saas Fee is pragmatically running and everything fitting around new Covid regs too.
“Reasons to face this safely and positively,” he added.
There is snow all the way down to village level after recent storms.
Many people were out enjoying the opening day.
“So awesome! It’s good that people are still smart enough to enjoy life, the resorts and I am sure that the distances and all sanitary measures are respected,” said Deborah Sinz on the resort’s Facebok page.
Others took a different view given the Covid-19 situation in Switzerland.
“I don’t quite understand how it is that ski resorts can open up and bring together so many people (just look at the number of people in the queue behind) when the epidemiological conditions in Valais are catastrophic,” said Michael Rodger.
“We are not allowed to gather more than 10 people in public space, however, when we have our skis on, there is no problem … We wonder who we are kidding,” he added.
Wearing a mask is mandatory at all facilities as well as in queues.
Social distancing is required, but it remains to be seen how it will be enforced.
Last weekend Cervinia in Italy opened and was promptly ordered to close as huge queues developed and lifts were packed.
It was a disaster for the Italian resort.
Verbier though is aiming for things to be different.
“Téléverbier is committed to welcoming skiers in the best possible conditions, taking into account the health situation,” said a statement from the lift company.
The snow has been good with several recent heavy falls in October.
However some question the wisdom of opening as Covid-19 surges across Switzerland.
The Valais Canton is one of the worst areas in the country.
We reported in the sharp increase in cases in Switzerland last week on PlanetSKI.
It has reached such levels in Switzerland that the authorities have mostly abandoned the country’s quarantine measures.
From 29th October people who have visited the UK in the past 10-days are no longer required to quarantine for 10-days on entry to Switzerland.
Switzerland introduced a quarantine as cases surged in the UK.
Switzerland itself is seeing a steep rise in cases.
It is one of the countries in Europe hardest hit by the second wave so the authorities deemed it pointless to impose quarantines on people arriving from less-impacted regions.
Now only Belgium, the Czech Republic, Andorra and Armenia, plus three regions of France, including Paris are considered high risk compared to the situation 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.
People who arrive in the UK from Switzerland do still need to quarantine.
Nevertheless Verbier is opening with everyone keeping their fingers crossed for the season ahead.
“We can guarantee that your health and safety, and that of our staff, are of the utmost importance when making the necessary decisions for the coming season,” said the CEO of Televerbier, Laurent Vaucher.
“Unless otherwise advised by the authorities, we are preparing to operate our ski area as usual while also applying the health measures currently in force.
“All service providers across Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson are ready to welcome you in the best conditions.
“With this in mind, I would ask you to kindly respect the measures in place for your own safety and that of everyone around you.”
With measures in place that meet all the regulations it is now up to individuals to obey the rules for the collective good of the snowsports community.
If people do not it is likely resorts will be shut down.
Verbier joins the Swiss resorts of Zermatt, Saas-Fee Glacier 3000, St Moritz and Engleberg that are currently offering some limited skiing and snowboarding in their ski areas.
Davos-Klosters has also opened two non-glacial runs for weekends only.
Other Swiss resorts, including Andermatt, are opening this weekend.