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Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding

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

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Worth remembering

Worth remembering in these difficult times…with thanks to the Tirol and all other mountain areas…

Sunday 15th November

Sunday Newspaper Proclaims that Coronavirus Could  Benefit Scottish Ski Areas

“Covid puts put Scottish ski areas in pole position” claims The Observer today on Page 9.

It says they may be an “unlikely beneficiary” with skiers and snowboarders nervous about going to Europe, and facing restrictions.

There are five ski resorts in Scotland: Cairngorm, the Nevis Range, Glencoe, Glenshee and The Lecht.

Observer article

Observer article

The only,  er, ‘observation’ we have on The Observer article is that last week the Nevis Range said it would not be opening at the start of the season.

The ski area has stopped selling lift passes and offered to refund customers.

It says it has “reached the very difficult conclusion to suspend the sale of Season Tickets for Snowsports and temporarily close the business.”

“With all of the travel restrictions and uncertainty surrounding winter operations we are not 100% confident that we can deliver a full season,” said the Nevis Range.

Glencoe has said it will open, but acknowledged the fact it might be locals only.

The others are considering their position.

We reported the news last week on PlanetSKI:

Scottish ski resort suspends its upcoming season

Now we sincerely hope the resorts open and have a fabulous winter – we skied there last season as the pandemic spread across the Alps.

We already have plans to visit in 2021 if the circumstances allow as we love skiing in Scotland.

PlanetSKI in Glenshee

PlanetSKI in Glenshee

But it is perhaps a bit remiss of The Observer to ignore the fact the resorts themselves are not confident about the coming winter.

Scotland is already under travel restrictions and these are likely to be extended.

The Observer article also appears on the Guardian Online.

Austria gives €100 to Each Worker in Hospitality Sector

The Austria Tourism Department said it would be available to full-time workers as well as part-time staff and those on apprenticeships.

It will benefit many people in the ski resorts as bars, restaurants and hotels remain closed under coronavirus restrictions.

It is estimated it will cost €1.5b – €2b.

The government has made plans for extra payments as the country has now extended lockdown until December 6th.

See here for news on the new lockdown:

Austria goes into full lockdown as Covid-19 continues to surge

Obergurgl, Tirol, Austria

Obergurgl, Tirol, Austria

Covid-19 Halts World Cup Event in Norway but Others in Scandinavia to go Ahead

Next month’s cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping World Cup competitions in Lillehammer, Norway, have been postponed due to Covid-19.

The events were due to be held from December 4th to 6th, but the Norwegian Ski Association and the International Ski Federation have decided to move them to later in the season.

“Based on the difficult time we are currently in, the uncertainty and the consequences of the current status of COVID-19 prevention measures, the Norwegian Ski Association believes that it is not right to arrange the World Cup in Lillehammer right now,” said NSA President Erik Røste.

International Ski Federation

International Ski Federation

There is better news from Ruka and Levi in Finland.

Levi in Finland is set to hold the women’s alpine World Cup events on November 21st and 22nd.

Social distancing and other Covid-19 precautions will be in place.

The resort has enough snow as it stored some from last winter and has been able to produce man-made snow.

The Finnish resort of Ruka has been given the green light to hold the men’s Nordic combined and ski jumping events.

They are due to take place 26th -29th November.

Men’s and women’s World Cup cross-country races are also due to be held the same weekend.

Saturday 14th November

Austria Goes into Full Lockdown as Covid-19 Continues to Surge

The alpine nation is seeing a sharp rise and measures taken so far do not appear to have worked.

Ski resorts are already closed to the general public and it is grim news as winter approaches.

People will now have to stay at home all day with only some exceptions such as for shopping or exercise.

There are already strict measures in Austria including a night-time curfew, restrictions on events, limits to gatherings.

The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has announced new measures.

Daily new cases hit a record of 9,586 on Friday, nine times higher than at the first wave’s peak.

It has 551 new cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

New Measures

  • All non essential shops will close
  • Service providers such as hairdressers will shut.
  • Secondary schools have already switched to distance learning
  • Schools for younger ages that are still open will do the same while providing childcare when necessary.
  • People should work from home where possible

The measures will come into force on Tuesday and remain until December 6th.

See here for our full story:

Austria Goes into Full Lockdown as Covid-19 Continues to Surge

Austria turns red

Austria turns red

France Sees Drop in Cases as Lockdown Measures Impact

New infections and hospital admissions dropped sharply at the end of the second week of its new national lockdown.

On last Saturday, 7th November, it reported 86,852 new cases.

Yesterday, on Friday 13th November, it was 23,794.

It currently has 443 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

This compares to 673 in Andorra, 556 in Switzerland and 551 in Austria.

In France the R-number is now below 1.

We reported earlier as it went into lockdown and ski resorts closed and others delayed their openings.

French ski resorts close as country goes into second lockdown

In Italy more regions have been added to its coronavirus high-risk “red zones”.

In the red zone at the moment are Lombardy, Bolzano, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north, and Calabria in the south.

Ski resorts in Italy shut to general public

Campania and Tuscany will go into the Red Zone from Sunday.

Austria is set to announce new restrictions later on Saturday as we have reported.

Tighter rules in Austria as Covid-19 continues to surge

Skiing in France

Skiing in France

Ski Weekender Closes its Alpine Base for Next Winter

UK Shortbreak Specialist is closing its main base in France, but it will act as an agent selling hotel rooms in its resorts.
Other operators are under the same pressures and are considering their plans for next winter as the pandemic spreads.

The company has been operating for 17-years and its main hotel, The Aravis Lodge, can accommodate more than 40 guests.

It gives access to the skiing in La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand.

Ski Weekender also offer hotels in Les Contamines, Saint Gervais and Samoens.

It is not an unexpected announcement as Covid- 19 surges in the Alps, more restrictions are coming into force in resorts and travel restrictions continue.

“We had predicted that the winter would see a resurgence of the virus and that restrictions were likely in both UK and France,” said Ski Weekender.

“We remain optimistic that the French resorts will be able to open for skiing, but less so that you will be able to travel out to enjoy them without significant risk of travel disruption or restrictions.

“This has meant some hard decisions, none more so than deciding that we will be unable to operate the Aravis Lodge this winter.”

Read our full report here:

Ski Weekender Closes its Alpine Base for Next Winter

Ski Weekender

Ski Weekender

Austria Set to Announce Tightening of Restrictions on Saturday

Austria is set to close schools and kindergartens to try to slow the spread of the virus, according to media reports.

They will only remain open to families who need care.

The government is expected to announce the measures on Saturday.

It’s thought all shops other than banks, pharmacies and food shops will close.

Austria has already introduced a partial lockdown, but cases are still surging.

It has 551 new cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Of the alpine nations only Switzerland is higher on 556.

France is 443, Italy 400 and Germany 158.

The UK stands on 251.

On Friday Austria has a further 9,586 cases and a further 53 deaths.

The partial lockdown, set to last until the end of the month, has closed restaurants, cafes and bars, to all but takeaway services.

Theatres and museums are closed.

Media speculation says working from home could be compulsory for those people than can.

Visits to nursing homes and hospitals could also be banned in a sharp increase in restrictions.

Ski resorts have already been shut except for a couple opening to racers and professionals only.

Austrian ski resorts close as Covid-19 spreads

Hintertux, Tirol, Austria

Hintertux, Tirol, Austria

Austria introduced tough measures last week, but they have not made a significant impact.

“The effects of the measures are very small, much less than expected,” said Niki Popper from the Ministry of Health.

“People haven’t reduced their leisure time contacts enough.”

The new measures are expected to come into force on Monday.

Friday 13th November

Friday Sees Another US Ski Resort Open

Mammoth Mountain opens to become the first resort in California to fire up its lifts.

It has spent more than $1M on COVID-19-related measures and says its “commitment to guest safety will be evident throughout the resort.”

These include new technologies and sanitisation procedures designed to aid with physical distancing and public health, and to reduce contact points throughout the resort.

“As we all know, things will look different this season with a number of new policies and procedures in place in order to help us and keep our guests, employees and community healthy,” the resort said.

It will prioritise access to the resort for Ikon Pass holders, and will not be requiring pass holder reservations.

“We will control resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding by tightly regulating the number of daily lift tickets, available by advance purchase only,” the resort said.

Walk-up sales of lift tickets will not be available so the resort can manage capacity and reduce contact points.

“A successful ski season will require a strong partnership between Mammoth Mountain, local government and health officials, the state, and our guests,” the resort added.

“We will continue to work closely with and follow the guidance of local and state health officials and adjust policies and procedures accordingly.”

Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth Mountain, California

PlanetSKI was last in Mammoth Mountain at the start of its season, and ours, back in November 2017.

48-hours in Mammoth Mountain

PlanetSKI in Mammoth Mountain

PlanetSKI in Mammoth Mountain

In Colorado a handful of resorts are already open as we reported earlier:

Snow falls as more US ski resorts open

“With continued cold temps and even more fresh snow in the forecast, we are stoked to announce we will be opening for the season one day early on Friday, November 13th,” Mammoth said.

“Weather permitting, we plan to operate Broadway Express (1), Stump Alley Express (2), Face Lift Express (3), Unbound Express (6) and Discovery Chair (11) on Friday morning.”

Mammoth Mountain, California, 9th November

Mammoth generally has the longest ‘winter’ season in the USA, staying open until July or even August.

Heavenly in California is also opening soon and is scheduled to begin operations on 20th November.

Squaw Valley follows on Wednesday 25th November ahead of the Thanksgiving Weekend.

Heavenly Mountain, California, 8th November

Rules at Mammoth Mountain

  • Guests are asked to practice social distancing by standing at least six feet away from other individuals not traveling with them throughout the destination.
  • Masks are required indoors, in lift lines and on lifts, in gondolas, shuttles, and when social distancing with others outside your travel group is not possible.
  • Perforated, ventilated, and thin, single-layer neck gaiter style face coverings will not be allowed. Guests are asked to use additional or alternative masks before entering facilities, queues, or other areas where masks are required.
  • Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the resort.
  • We are disinfecting high-touch points (railings, bathrooms, door handles, tables, chairs, etc.) and high-trafficked areas (gondolas, ticket windows, elevators, doors, guest rooms, etc.) throughout the destination more frequently.

Battle of the Ski Face Masks

Selecting one’s snowsports outfit used to be one of the pre-season occupations for every fashionable skier or snowboarder.

A mask is now part of the decision making process.

Looks and fashion combined with practicality is the judgement to make.

And of course, the all-important price.

Do you want a face mask to do the main job of limiting the spread of the virus/offering some protection to yourself?

Or would you like it to do another function, or even functions?

Battle of the Ski Face Masks

Ski face masks

Ski face masks

Scottish Ski Resort Suspends its Upcoming Season

The Nevis Range is to suspend the sale of season passes and temporarily close the resort. It blames Covid-19 and the growing uncertainty.

Others are reviewing their positions with Glencoe saying it will open as planned in December.

There are five ski areas in Scotland – The Nevis Ranger, Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht and Cairngorm.

After losing £1m due to the pandemic it has said it can’t open in December and January while there are restrictions in place as it would lose “significant amounts of money, which would put jobs at risk”.

It says it has “reached the very difficult conclusion to suspend the sale of Season Tickets for Snowsports and temporarily close the business.”

“With all of the travel restrictions and uncertainty surrounding winter operations we are not 100% confident that we can deliver a full season for you.”

Read more here:

Scottish Ski Resort Suspends its Upcoming Season

Nevis Range

Nevis Range

Man Jailed in Austria for 7-months for Travelling Through the Country with Covid-19

The 29-year old man from Afghanistan had been ordered to quarantine after a positive test, but travelled through Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Salzburg before being stopped by German border guards.

He said he was heading to Berlin to see his brother.

He was found guilty of ‘wishful exposure of a communicable disease’.

It carries a maximum term of 3-years in jail.

He is set to be released shortly having already serviced most of the time in custody as the case waited to be heard.

The prosecution is considering an appeal to try to lengthen the sentence.

Austria border

Video Trailer for 2021 World Snow Day Released

World Snow Day is due to be held on January 17 and is set to be the 10th edition of the event.

Whether all the planned events go ahead next January is another matter altogether with Covid-19 surging.

Fingers crossed.

At the very best they will need to abide by social distancing measures and other regulations.

World Snow Day aims to increase participation in snow sports by giving children and their families the chance to experience and enjoy snow.

Various activities take place around the world, with organisations such as ski and snowboard schools, ski resorts, tourism boards and national governing bodies encouraged to join in.

Last year saw 363 official activities held across 45 countries.

Thursday 12th November

Spain Requires Negative Covid-19 Tests from People Arriving from UK

The PCR tests will have to be taken within 72-hours of arrival.

Spain is to make it compulsory for all people coming from high-risk countries, including the UK.

The requirement is to be introduced from 23rd November.

People arriving back in the UK from Spain are currently required to self-isolate for 14-days though the length of time may be reduced at the beginning of December.

UK citizens are being advised only to go to Spain for essential reasons.

The ski resorts in the Pyrenees usually open at the end of November or beginning of December.

Here are some provisional dates:

  • Formigal, 21st November 2020
  • La Molina, 21st November 2020
  • Baqueira Beret, 4th December 2020

All resorts are currently under Covid-19 restrictions and measures may change at any time.

There was some decent early snowfall in the Spanish Pyrenees, but much has melted with milder November temperatures.

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Footpaths in Scottish Mountains Face Damage from Social Distancing

The National Trust for Scotland says people are leaving the paths on Ben Lomond and Ben Lawers to avoid other walkers.

This is damaging damaging vegetation and widening paths.

There are also more people than normal out at this time of year – in some cases more than double the usual amount.

The NTS is urging people to walk in single file and return to the paths as soon as other walkers have been passed.

See more from BBC Scotland.

The Highlands, Scotland

The Highlands, Scotland

The authorities are asking people to avoid using metal-tipped walking poles and to take home any litter.

Here on PlanetSKI we reported on the problems extra crowds bring back in August.

Visitors in Scottish Highlands Urged to be Responsible

Rubbish left at Glenshee, summer 2020

Rubbish left at Glenshee, summer 2020

Dog poo bag left at Glenshee, Summer 2020

Dog poo bag left at Glenshee, Summer 2020

With Covid-19 spreading in the Alps and the Pyrnees, plus North America likely out of bounds there is some renewed interest in skiing in Scotland this coming winter.

Skiing in Scotland in Covid-19 Times

PlanetSKI in Glenshee

PlanetSKI in Glenshee

More US ski resorts open amid Covid-19 restrictions

Wolf Creek was the first to open in Colorado and was followed by Keystone.

Normally the battle is between Loveland and Arapahoe Basin.

Loveland opened on Wednesday and Arapahoe-Basin last Monday.

Loveland, Colorado, USA

Loveland, Colorado, USA

Loveland Ski Patrol Dog Zuma and Loveland Mascot and Georgetown, Colorado Mayor Parker the Snow Dog filmed a video to let guests know what they can expect at Loveland Ski Area during the 2020/21 season.

Parker and Zuma want skiers and snowboarders to have fun this season, but to be safe so everyone can all enjoy a full season.

Parker and Zuma’s safety tag line this year is “Be Safe, Be Smart. Keep Skiing & Riding.”

“The A-Basin ski season has begun and it is snowing,” said Chief Operating Officer, Alan Henceroth.

A-Basin’s opening was deliberately a low-key affair.

“We opened yesterday afternoon with very little promotion,” Alan Henceroth said in his blog on Tuesday.

“We are taking management of the resort in the COVID era very seriously. We did not want to see a typical, crowded, rowdy opening day.

“Our strategy worked. With Wolf Creek and Keystone already open, that took away some of the opening bluster. By opening for a couple hours in the afternoon, we took even more of the edge away.

“Lastly, our plans for A-Basin passes, Ikon Passes and lift tickets worked well these first couple of days. We are so excited to be open. With everyone wearing masks, I did not see a lot of friendly faces, but I heard a lot of friendly voices.

“It is good to be skiing.”

The first resort in California is preparing to open.

“With continued cold temps and even more fresh snow in the forecast, we are stoked to announce we will be opening for the season one day early on Friday, November 13th,” said Mammoth Mountain.

Mammoth Mountain, California, 9th November

See here for our full report as more snow is in the forecast:

Snow Falls as More US Ski Resorts Open

New Ski Flights in 2020/21 from Bristol

The airline Jet2.com is making Bristol its 10th operating base in the UK with summer and winter flights.

There will be weekend flights to three ski hub airports in the Alps

  • Geneva – weekly Saturday services
  • Grenoble – weekly Sunday services
  • Salzburg – weekly Saturday services

It is a sizeable expansion in these Covid-19 times.

The airline has coronavirus precautions including HEPA filters on aircraft, onboard cleaning and ensuring that everyone wears face masks.

The move will be welcomed by skiers and snowboarders in the South West.

It will bring local economic benefits too.

“Our arrival at Bristol Airport means significant investment for the region. More than 200 new jobs “will be created with roles including flight and cabin crew, engineers and ground operations staff,” said a statement from the airline.

The aviation and travel industry has been battered by coronavirus and is a sign how one company sees the future if things begin to get back to normal next Spring and Summer.

Jet2.com

Jet2.com

Winter Universiade Moves to December 2021

The University Games were due to be held in January in Lucerne in Switzerland but have been moved to the start of next season.

The Winter Universiade is the largest winter multisport event for university student athletes.

It will take place as a joint project of the six cantons of Central Switzerland: Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Zug, as well as the city of Lucerne.

The programme has competition in ten sporting disciplines held at seven venues and include Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard.

“We are extremely pleased that the Winter Universiade 2021 can still take place, in spite of the pandemic-induced postponement,” said the International University Sports Federation President Oleg Matytsin.

Winter Universiade

Winter Universiade

Italy Considers Tougher Measures to Battle Spread of Covid-19

It already has various levels of restrictions, in different parts of the country.

Some of the ski areas in the Alps are already in the Red Zone as we reported earlier, Italian ski areas go into lockdown.

The government is understood to be considering putting the whole country under the same level of restrictions which would mean all other ski resorts would be affected.

Most shops, bars and restaurants would close and there would be a ban on movement between regions.

It is being reported that there could be a decision by the weekend.

Italy has had more than a million Covid-19 cases.

It has a daily death rate of over 600, a level not seen since April.

Val Senales, Italy

Val Senales, Italy

Sweden Bans Sale of Alcohol After 10pm

It is the latest restriction as the country battles a surge in Covid-19 cases.

It currently has 268 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

This is far higher than its Scandinavian neighbours and is about that same as the UK that is on 270.

Sweden has seen more than 6,000 deaths in a population of 10.5m.

The new law comes into force on 20th November and is expected to stay in place until the end of February 2021.

Sweden has never had a formal lockdown, although in recent weeks the government has introduced stricter guidelines.

A ban on groups of more than eight people in pubs and restaurants was announced last week.

Tougher local recommendations have been introduced in different regions.

These include avoiding physical contact with people you don’t live with and staying away from public places.

The Head of Infectious Diseases at Uppsala University Hospital, Fredrik Sund, has called the voluntary guidelines “toothless”.

The ski resort of Idre Fjall has already fired up a lift and will be open for skiing this Friday and across the weekend.

Idre Fjall, Sweden

Idre Fjall, Sweden

It was one of the few countries that did not closed its ski resorts as the pandemic spread last March.

Sweden remains open for skiing

Skiing finally ends in Sweden

Wednesday 11th November

Zermatt Produces its own Face Covering

And not just any old mask.

This is a “multifunctional protective mask”.

It slips over a ski helmet and attaches to the fastening for goggles.

“It can quickly be pulled up over your mouth and nose in areas where masks have to be worn, and when you get out onto the slopes it can be worn around your neck to keep out the cold,” said the resort.

“Then on the way home you can use it to protect your goggles”.

Zermatt's protective mask

Zermatt’s protective mask

The mask can be machine-washed repeatedly at up to 60°C or sanitized in boiling water.

The masks are tested by the Certam Institute and meet AFNOR SPEC S76-001 requirements.

They cost 24.50CHFs (£20.40) each.

It looks like a sensible addition to you ski wardrobe as Covid-19 is surging in Switzerland and it is currently one of the main hotspots in Europe

Zermatt remains open along with a handful of other resorts in Switzerland.

Elsewhere in the Alps resorts have been closed to the general public in France, Austria and Italy as Covid-19 surges.

26 kms of pistes are currently open in Zermatt.

Further slopes and lifts will follow on a step-by-step basis as the snow conditions allow and if further Covid-19 restrictions are not imposed.

It is planned to open the whole ski area on 28th November.

In Zermatt masks are mandatory on all lifts, including at stations and in waiting areas.

Cabins, gondolas, public spaces and shared surfaces and objects are reportedly being cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

The resort has recently been crowned the best ski resort in the Alps.

Zermatt Wins Again

Facemasks in Zermatt

Facemasks in Zermatt

Tighter Rules in Austria as Covid-19 Continues to Surge

Shops in Austria will need to shut at 7pm from Wednesday evening.

Last week it introduced tighter rules and there is speculation of further measures this week.

Elsewhere in the Alps Covid-19 is spreading as the ski season approaches, but news of a successful vaccine trial has brought much optimism.

Austria turns red

Austria turns red

Read more here:

Tighter Rules in Austria as Covid-19 Continues to Surge

Tuesday 10th November

TUI has cancelled visits to meet Father Xmas in Lapland

All trips to Lapland from the UK and Ireland have been suspended by the tour operator Tui as Finland plans to introduce mandatory Covid-19 testing for arrivals.

Tui said it was an “incredibly difficult decision” as it means it will not be able to provide the “truly magical, once-in-a-lifetime family experience” of visiting Santa at his home.

It said it took the decision to “remove uncertainty” as it could not be sure of delivering on the promise of a safe and enjoyable holiday, given the “rapidly evolving travel environment”.

Father Xmas in Lapland

Father Xmas in Lapland

“Visiting Santa is a truly magical, once-in-a-lifetime family experience and TUI has worked extremely hard in recent months to try to ensure it can keep the magic alive and guarantee children and their parents a safe and enjoyable holiday,” said TUI in a statement.

“However, with the rapidly evolving travel environment and a COVID test soon to be mandatory for Finland, TUI UK and Ireland has decided that on this occasion, it would not be able to deliver on this promise and wanted to remove uncertainty for families.

“The health, safety and enjoyment of customers and colleagues continues to be TUI’s number one priority.

“TUI would like to apologise sincerely for any inconvenience and disappointment caused and thanks customers for their understanding.

“The magical TUI holiday experience to Lapland will be back in winter 2021.”

Crystal Ski Holidays Plans to Run December Ski Holidays

Inghams, Ski Total, Espirt and Flexiski have cancelled December operations due to Covid-19.

Crystal Ski is still planning to operate normally, but keeping a close eye on developments.

“As the current Government regulations in England are in place until 2nd December, and our season kicks off with first flights departing on 12th December, all our ski holidays are still scheduled to operate as planned,” Crystal Ski Holidays said in a statement.

“We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and we will proactively contact customers, if their holidays are impacted, closer to the time of departure and offer them a range of flexible options.

“With still a month to go until the start of the ski season, we’re working hard to remain flexible, so we can react to the ever-changing situation and take as many people to the mountains as we can.

“We know this can be unsettling for customers, so those with holidays this season also have the option to amend their holiday for free to a later date or future season.”

Read the full story: Four UK Tour Operators Cancel All Ski Holidays In December 

Crystal Ski Holidays

Crystal Ski Holidays

The UK’s largest operator, Crystal Ski Holidays, has already said it won’t operate holidays to resorts where it’s known customers will need to self-isolate or quarantine when they get there or when they get back home.

Interski Cancels Operations for Next Winter

The operator has been working in the Aosta Valley in Italy for almost 40years, but has decided to suspend all operations next winter due to Covid-19.

It had already cancelled holidays for the beginning on the winter and now it has decided to pull the plug on the whole 2020/21 season.

“The situation regarding the coronavirus, both here in the UK and in Italy, has deteriorated in recent weeks,” it said in a statement.

“Combined with the various government restrictions in place, we have been forced to make the very difficult decision to cancel all our operations for this coming season.”

See here for our full story: Interski Cancels Operations for Next Winter

Pila, Italy

Pila, Italy

Four UK Ski Tour Operators Cancel All Ski Holidays in December

Inghams, Esprit, Ski Total and Flexiski will not run any ski holidays this year, including over Christmas.

Hotelplan UK, which owns the four operators, says it’s been an ‘extremely difficult decision’ but necessary because of continuing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision raises questions about whether other ski tour operators will follow suit.

Hotelplan says it is “still hopeful that we will have a ski season this winter”.

“Following the commencement of another national lockdown and the continued uncertainty regarding travel restrictions for the remainder of 2020 we have regretfully made the extremely difficult decision to suspend all ski and Lapland holidays departing in December 2020 across our Inghams, Esprit, Ski Total and Flexiski programmes,” said Joe Ponte, Hotelplan UK CEO, in a statement provided to PlanetSKI.

“We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment to our customers, therefore it is not a decision we have taken lightly. Most importantly, the safety of our guests and our staff continues to be our top priority.”

Read the full story: Four UK Tour Operators Cancel All Ski Holidays In December 

Flexiski

Flexiski on the slopes

Norwegian Struggling After Government Refuses Bailout

The no-frills airline, which flies from the UK to the ski hub airports of Oslo in Norway and Denver in Colorado, among others, posted a loss of 1 billion kroner (€95.7 million) in the third quarter of the year.

The company used only 25 of its 140 aircraft in the third quarter and is reported to have only €318 million to see it through the winter.

“This crisis is far from over and as we enter the traditionally more difficult winter trading environment it is crucial that the Norwegian aviation industry receive further support if we are going to survive,” Chief Executive Jacob Schram said in a statement reproduced in The Local Norway.

He said he could not rule out bankruptcy.

The warning comes a day after the Norwegian government turned down a request to provide the airline with further financial aid.

Norwegian

Norwegian

‘Lockdown’ Declared Word of the Year

Not surprisingly, you may think, the word ‘lockdown’ is the word of 2020, according to Collins Dictionary.

It “encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people”, Collins said.

The dictionary has registered 250,000 usages of  the word this year, up from 4,000 in 2019.

Other pandemic-related terms making the top 10 include coronavirus, furlough, key worker, social distancing and self-isolate.

Last year the Collins word (or two words) of the year was ‘Climate Strike’.

Kendal Mountain Festival Goes Virtual

Kendal Mountain Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary, moving its line-up of films, live events, guest speakers and literature programme online.

It takes place from the 19th – 20th November.

· Ten days of compelling, emotive and entertaining curated content from 19th-29th November

· 12 major film prizes up for grabs, including the People’s Choice award as voted by the public

· 2020 sees a record number of entries received from professional and amatuer filmmakers globally

Kendal Mountain Festival

Kendal Mountain Festival

The event features a big-name line up of speakers featuring world-class international athletes, adventurers, authors and filmmakers.

It has the survivalist Ray Mears, TV traveller Simon Reeve, C4 journalist Keme Nzerem, Rhiane Fatinikun the founder of Black Girls Hike UK, Jason Fox from SAS Who Dares Wins, explorer Aldo Kane and mountaineer Leo Houlding.

At the core of the event is the International Film Competition with 12 major film prizes up for grabs, including the sought-after People’s Choice award voted for by the public.

Full Festival Pass (access to everything) £96.00

Film Pass (access to all films) £37.50

Literature Pass (access to all literature events) £37.50

Single Film / Event £5.50

Specialist Session £10.75

Speaker Session £10.75

Tickets and passes on sale now via www.kendalmountainfestival.com

Kendal Mountain Festival

Kendal Mountain Festival

Monday 9th November

Strong Result in Vaccine Trial Welcomed by Travel Industry

Stock markets and company shares have soared on the news that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine has shown strong results in phase three trials.

Two doses, three weeks apart, are needed.

The trials show 90% protection is achieved seven days after the second dose.

Airline stocks have risen sharply with EasyJet up 29% and the owner of British Airways, IAG, up more than 40%.

There are hopeful signs that it could have an impact on the ski industry in the New Year that has been hard hit by the pandemic.

Resorts in Italy, Austria, and France remain closed to the general public with only racers and professionals allowed to train.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is one of 11 vaccines that are in the final stages of testing.

In July, the UK government signed deals for 30 million doses of the vaccine.

The news comes as the government also says its travel taskforce is making “very good progress” on developing a testing system that could cut the 14-day quarantine period for arrivals into the UK.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, was speaking to the Airport Operators Association annual conference.

It is expected there will be a single test for people arriving into the UK.

Passengers have to pay and there is likely to be a much-reduced period of self-isolation.

“Beyond the lockdown, this should encourage more people to be able to book flights with confidence, knowing there is an option which allows them to shorten self-isolation if they’re going somewhere which isn’t in – or does become outside – a travel corridor,” said Mr Shapps.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Swiss Olympic Calls for Fast Easing of Covid-19 Restrictions When Conditions Allow

The President, Jürg Stahl, has urged for “a rapid relaxation of sport as soon as the epidemiological situation allows”.

He has stressed the importance of sport as restrictions threaten to stop many sporting activities in the country.

Some sports facilities have been closed with limits of 50 spectators allowed inside venues for ice hockey and football matches.

“Swiss Olympic is convinced that training in smaller groups, subject to strict adherence to protection concepts, is also possible in this situation, without hindering all of our main goal of containing the pandemic,” he added.

Swiss Olympic

Swiss Olympic

Switzerland is a current Covid-19 hotspot in Europe and has the 642 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period – the highest rate of all the alpine nations.

France has 453, Austria 360 and Italy 323.

The UK is at 205.

Valais canton in Switzerland introduced new Covid-19 rules

Verbier opens as Covid-19 surges in Switzerland

Sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland

Kitzbuehel Open to Racers Only

The resort’s ski season officially began on 24th October when it opened a small section with the help of snow stored from last year.

Selected slopes are open to professional skiers only, with the resort planning to open fully to the public on 30th November, when regional restrictions are due to come to an end.

Resterhöhe, Kitzbuhel

Resterhöhe, Kitzbuhel

“In addition to adhering to the rules as set out by the local and national authorities, tourism providers in Kitzbühel have been working around the clock to ensure that guests can make the most of the town’s superb facilities, while experiencing a warm and heartfelt Tirolean welcome,” said the resort.

The open slopes are a training area of the Austrian and German Ski Teams.

More than 50 national and international squads registered to ski there, alongside a number winter sports clubs and junior teams.

Austria ski areas close as Covid-19 spreads

The resort will have covid-19 measure in place when it opens to the general public.

Wearing a mask will be required in accommodation communal areas, in the waiting areas and on the ski lifts, and social distancing measures will be in place throughout.

Hand sanitiser will be widely available, and visitors will be able to dine out in confidence thanks to strict restaurant hygiene practices as directed by the Ministry of Health.

Most accommodation providers are working with the authorities to regularly test their staff.

Hotel employees have been able to receive free tests on a voluntary basis since 1 July, and this was extended to those in the catering industry on 1 September.

Ski instructors can now also take part in the programme, meaning almost everyone that holidaymakers come into contact with, will be regularly checked.

If required, visitors themselves will be able to take a rapid test at a dedicated screening station in the town, with results delivered in just three hours.

Everyone is urged to use the ‘Digital Guestbook’ while in the resort.

It is a contact tracing system in which users scan QR codes in restaurants, hotels, and other locations to record their movements.

The system, which complies with strict data protection rules, helps to ensure the safety of the whole region, and will allow holidaymakers to enjoy peace of mind.

Kitzbuhel, Tirol, Austria

Kitzbuhel, Tirol, Austria

 

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

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:

November 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 27th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 20th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 13th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

July 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 19th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 5th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 28th: Coroanvirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 7th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 31st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 24th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 17th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

May 3rd: The coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 26th: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding continues

April 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiiing and snowboarding continues

April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

March 29th: Our rolling blog on the impact of Covid-19 continues

March 23rd: PlanetSKI’s rolling blog on the coronavirus impact on skiing continues

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

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