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Covid-19 Impact on Skiing & 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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Sunday 13th December

Tougher Measures Come into Force this Weekend in Switzerland

The Federal Government has ordered restaurants, bars and shops to close from 7pm across much of the country.

Regions less badly affected by Covid-19 can stay open until 11pm, if the epidemiological situation allows.

“The number of cases is rising quickly and strongly,” said the Swiss President, Simonetta Sommaruga.

Hospitals and medical staff are at their limit, she said.

The government decided against further restrictions on private gatherings.

The current rule of no more than ten people will continue to apply.

The changes will remain in place until January 22nd.

The government will discuss whether to introduce more restrictions at a meeting on December 18th.

Ski resorts in the country are opening with extra precautions and are aimed at the ‘domestic market’.

Switzerland currently has 332 reported cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

A week ago it was 304.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Austria Cancels Some Rail Services to Italy due to Covid-19 Measures

There are no long-distance rail services between the two countries due to new Italian regulations.

From Sunday, December 13th, fever and temperature controls are to be introduced.

A negative coronavirus test is also needed on arrival in Italy.

The test needs to have been done in the previous 48-hours.

“We ask all of our travellers when traveling to Italy to comply with the legal requirements of Italy and to carry a negative Corona test with them,” said the Austrian train company, ÖBB.

Some cross-border routes in the Alps will continue to run.

Austria rail system

Austria rail system

Similar measure were taken by Swiss Rail last week as we reported at the time, Train services stopped between Switzerland and Italy.

Rail services between Switzerland and Italy are now set to continue.

Representatives of both nations have agreed on the need to ensure the continuity of passenger transport between the two countries.

Following discussions between the Italian Minister of Transport and Switzerland’s Transport Ministry it was decided that the EuroCity services would “be maintained, but to a limited extent”, said the Swiss rail company, SSB.

From December 10th two EuroCity trains are now running on the Gotthard system, and two on the Simplon tracks.

Checks will be carried out at the border posts in Chiasso and Domodossola by the staff of the Italian railways.

Swiss train

Slovakia Opens Under Covid-19 Restrictions

Jasna in the Julian Alps in the Low Tatras mountains has opened.

Ski resorts in Slovakia are under strict rules that will last until January.

Every visitor older than 10-years of age will be required to show a negative test result taken within the past 72-hours.

On the ski lifts only one person or one household will be allowed to be on a chairlift or in a gondola.

The ski resorts will have to set up testing stations, but the details of how, when and the costs have not been published.

In hotels, guests will require a negative test no older than 72 hours. It will not be possible to eat and drink in the shared spaces.

Restaurants and bars can only operate as takeaway or delivery. Outdoor terraces will remain.

So far there have been no changes made to travel or border restrictions.

“The restrictions are frustrating, wearing a mask on a bluebird day is annoying, and no one wants to spend more time queueing than skiing,” said the company, Jasna Adventures.

“But, if we want to ski at all this season we ALL have to follow the rules laid out.”

Jasna, Slovakia

Jasna, Slovakia

Verbier Will Not Accept Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass

It is a reciprocal lift pass that covers 10 ski areas in France, Switzerland and Italy, plus three excursion sites.

The Swiss resort has decided not to accept it to keep the number of skiers and snowboarders down and try to stop further spread of coronavirus.

“The health context of COVID 19 impacts all of us and involves increasing our efforts to ensure the safety and health of our customers and employees.

“To this end, we have decided to no longer accept for the moment the free days or at reduced prices enjoyed by your customers with MONT BLANC Unlimited Season, Year and Stay ski passes, in our resorts during the period from December 12, 2020 to January 11, 2021 at least, in order to limit the number of skiers in our ski area.

“Therefore, we ask you to inform your customers of this temporary restriction.

“We thank you for your understanding and we wish you, despite everything, a beautiful end of year celebrations.

“Hoping that this health crisis is resolved as soon as possible.”

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

The pass covers 10 ski areas in France, Switzerland and Italy, plus three excursion sites.

Chamonix ski areas: Brévent-Flégère area, Grands Montets area (Top closed), Balme – Le Tour – Vallorcine area and Les Houches ski area

Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area: Saint-Gervais or Megève

Begginers Skiing Areas: La Vormaine, les Chosalets, Le Savoy, Plateau 2000 (Planpraz), Plateau de Lognan and les Planards

Courmayeur (Italy)

Skyway (Italy)

Verbier – 4 Vallées Mont-Fort 3330 (6 to 21 day pass) (Switzerland)

3 excursion sites : Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers – Mer de Glace et Tramway du Mont-Blanc

Saturday 12th December

Largest Scandinavian Ski Operator Goes Out of Business

The Danish firm Piste Group, that owns Skinetworks, has gone bankrupt.

It was behind the ski travel agencies Nortlander, Slopetrotter, Danski, Active Alps and Summitweek.

Piste Group was due to take around 15,000 Danes to the ski slopes this winter.

“It is with a heavy mind that we must announce that the corona crisis has made Piste Group so financially challenged that we must take such drastic steps as filing for bankruptcy,” said a statement from the company.

“As long as we cannot send the Danes skiing, we have no turnover, and the prospects that we can be allowed to do so are long”.

Piste Group looked like a healthy business before the pandemic.

In 2018/19 it had a turnover of DKK 650 million (£78m) .

The company employed 250 people.

UK ski companies are also suffering:

Alpine Elements Collapses but Plans Relaunch

Ski Amis goes out of business

VIP SKI goes out of business

Leading UK ski operator goes into administration

Largest operator in Scandinavia

Largest operator in Scandinavia

 

French Court Confirms Closure of Ski Lifts as Date Set for January Opening

The Council of State made its decision as the government says lifts may open on January 7th if conditions allow.

Lifts will not be turning in the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Jura or the Massif Central over Xmas.

Resorts are set to open on January 7th but strict criteria will need to be met and it remains uncertain.

See here for more:

Skiing in France

Skiing in France

Norway Set to Ban People from the UK

On January 1st the border will be closed as Covid-19 restrictions coincide with Brexit changes.

Skiing will be off limits for people from the UK.

There are growing concerns that UK citizens might be barred from all EU countries in three weeks.

It comes as the UK transition period for leaving the EU ends and the Norwegian authorities deem the levels of coronavirus in the UK too high.

UK skiers and snowboarders are currently allowed to travel to Norway as it comes under the same rules as EU countries.

The details can be found on the web site of The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.

It poses this question:

“I am a British citizen or a citizen of another country and a resident of the UK. Can I still travel to Norway after 1st January 2021 if the corona restrictions apply?”

And it gives this answer:

“No, you cannot, unless you belong to one of the exceptions who can enter or are a British citizen residing in Norway and have legal residence before 31st December 2020.”

The situation with regard to entry into Norway could be replicated across the EU making skiing and snowboarding near impossible, except in Switzerland which is not in the EU.

At present the EU’s external borders are closed to non-essential travel from all countries apart from those on its short list of safe countries.

The UK is not on that list and is unlikely to make it due to its high number of coronavirus cases.

See here for the full details in our main story:

Norway

Norway

Friday 11th December

Quarantine Drops to 10-days

People coming back from any of the ski nations where quarantine is required will now need to self-isolate for 10 days rather than 14.

The change in self-isolation rules was announced in a statement from the four UK chief medical officers in the UK.

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10,” they said in a statement.

“People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.”

The only country where skiing is possible, and no quarantine is required is Norway.

However, Norway requires a 10-day quarantine period on people entering the country from the UK.

On January 1st when the UK ends its transition period from leaving the EU people from the UK will be barred altogether.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Some Main Spanish  Ski Areas to Open Next Week

The Catalan ski areas in the Pyrenees say they will open on December 14th.

Sierra Nevada in Granada is also set to open.

This week’s planned openings were delayed.

Some smaller ski areas in Spain have fired up their lifts with skiing underway for locals only.

Baqueira Beret was due to open on Friday December 11th and it has now announced it will open next week.

“We open the 2020-2021 season next Monday, December 14,” it said in a statement on Friday.

“Together with the rest of the Catalan stations we will open doors with all the relevant Covid19 security measures.”

Sierra Nevada in Granada usually opens by the end of November and it has announced it will also be opening next week.

“We open new season December 18th. Are you guys excited for the season to start?” the resort said on Facebook.

Sierra Nevada, Spain

Sierra Nevada, Spain

In the Aragon region of the Spanish Pyrenees the resorts of Formigal, Panticosa, Cerler and Valdeinares and Javalambre have delayed opening until the situation is clearer.

La Molina is not opening and says this “decision is based on the sense of prudence and responsibility towards our first priority, which is the health of our visitors, our workers and all those living in our environment.”

“Here we continue working hard to offer the best conditions when possible open the season. Thank you for your support and patience,” it added.

Read our full story here:

Some smaller ski areas in Spain have already opened.

Valle Laciana-Leitariegos, Spain

Valle Laciana-Leitariegos, Spain

Update From Europe

Italy has seen a 6% fall in Covid-19 case numbers in the past week and health officials say confirms that the curve is “freezing”.

The Covid commissioner Domenico Arcuri has appealed especially to young Italians to take care over Christmas and to act responsibly.

France is tightening its restrictions over the Christmas period due to rising case numbers said the Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Lockdown is due to end on December 15th, but tight restrictions will remain.

The night curfew that comes into force on 15 December has been brought forward by an hour to 20:00 and will be enforced on New Year’s, Eve ruling out public celebrations.

Ski resorts remain closed to the general public until January.

Flying to the Alps

The Nordic Skiing Powerhouse of Norway Withdraws From Tour de Ski

It is an astonishing development as Norway pulls out of one of the biggest competitions of the winter over what it sees as poor Covid-19 planning.

Eight Tour de Ski stages are currently scheduled for January 1 – 10 2021 and Norway, plus Finland and Sweden wanted the number reduced to five to limit the exposure of athletes and coaching staff to coronavirus.

The International Ski Federation has rejected the idea as we reported lower down this blog on Tuesday 8th December.

Norway is one of the leading nations in the cross-country discipline.

The Olympic and world champion Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and others are now set to miss out on the Tour de Ski.

Norwegian cross-country star, Therese Johaug, said she would only compete if there was a maximum of five races.

“The health of the athletes and the support staff is a priority for us,” said the  Norwegian cross-country skiing team manager, Espen Bjerwig.

Val Müstair in Switzerland is to host three races, with Toblach in Italy then staging two.

Competition is set to conclude in Italy with three races in Val di Fiemme.

FIS said that “the investment of the Tour de Ski organisers must also be respected.”

It added that “making such a decision so late would have a huge impact on organisers and country ski federations.”

“Organising a World Cup costs a lot. No-one is ready to lose money, even if the change seems logistically sensible,” said the FIS cross-country race director, Pierre Mignerey.

“The race is about more than just skiing from start to finish – adding or deleting events would have a huge impact.”

International Ski Federation

International Ski Federation

French Ski Resorts Take Government to Court Over Ski Lift Closures

The organisation Domaines Skiables de France has taken its case to the courts this week. Observers believe it will have little chance of success.

The country’s highest administrative legal authority, The Council of State, has heard the  arguments this week, and a decision is expected by the end of next week.

It follows the decision of the French government to close the lifts in ski resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees,

By and large the resorts have reacted with anger and there have been a series of demonstrations and some intense lobbying.

So far to no avail, so now they have gone down the legal route.

Snowsports in France is a huge industry worth around €10 billion.

Xmas and New Year account for a quarter of that – €2.5 billion.

Protest at Bourg d'Oisans

Protest at Bourg d’Oisans

Thursday 10th December

TUI Reports €3 billion Loss

It is the biggest travel company in the world and owns the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski Holidays.

The operator said it expects to return to profit in 2022 as travel resumes, but said immediate challenges remain, including fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Crystal has made significant cutbacks for this ski season:

Crystal Ski Holidays Cancels All December Holidays to France

Crystal Ski Holidays Cancels Entire Ski Chalet Programme for Next Winter

Tui will operate just 20% of its capacity across all its brands over this winter.

“There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the likelihood and nature of further lockdowns and travel restrictions over the next few months, the distribution of an effective vaccine and the shape of the economic recovery,” Tui said.

Then there is Brexit.

“A main concern remains whether our airlines will continue to have full access to EU airspace after the transition period,” it said.

“We are continuing to address the importance of there being a special and comprehensive agreement for aviation between the EU and the UK post Brexit to protect consumer choice with the relevant UK and EU decision makers.”

Crystal Ski Holidays

Crystal Ski Holidays

Main Spanish Ski Areas Delay Opening

Baqueira Beret and Sierra Nevada have announced they will not be opening as planned this week due to Covid-19 restrictions. Other smaller ski areas are firing up their lifts with skiing underway for locals only.

Baqueira Beret was due to open on Friday December 11th and has taken the decision to postpone the opening until restrictions are loosened in Catalonia.

“We report that Friday December 11th will not open the season as announced a few weeks ago,” said the resort in a statement.

“We are working to open the facilities as soon as possible.”

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Sierra Nevada in Granada usually opens by the end of November and it has also delayed opening.

Sierra Nevada, Spain

Sierra Nevada, Spain

Some small Spanish ski areas are though are opening up their slopes.

Valle Laciana-Leitariegos, Spain

Valle Laciana-Leitariegos, Spain

See here for our full report:

La Molina, Spain

La Molina, Spain

Intensive Care Beds in Sweden’s Capital Near Capacity

Intensive care unit beds in Stockholm hospitals have reportedly hit 99% capacity for the first time since coronavirus hit.

There were between five and seven beds available out of 160 in the Swedish capital on Wednesday, according to local media.

“We need help,” Bjorn Eriksson, the director of healthcare for the Stockholm region, told a news conference.

There were 814 patients being treated for the virus in Stockholm on Wednesday, up from 748 last Friday, according to government data.

Sweden has never imposed a nationwide lockdown.

Ski resorts in the country have begun to open.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

UK holidaymakers Could be Banned from EU after January 1st

Current Covid-19 rules only allow people from the EU, European Economic Area and Schengen countries to cross the borders.

There are a handful of exceptions, but newspaper reports claim the EU has indicated the UK will not be generally exempt.

The Foreign Secretary has played down the reports.

The situation is reported in the Guardian and Financial Times newspapers today.

Only a handful of countries with low coronavirus rates are exempt from the EU Commission restrictions, with the UK included only until the end of the Brexit transition period that ends on December 31st.

It would have a devastating impact on UK skiers and snowboarders if ski resorts open in January.

They are currently closed in France and Italy, with tight restrictions in Austria when it opens its ski areas on December 24th.

The majority of EU countries already have quarantine entry requirements for travellers from the UK, but this would be an outright ban.

Switzerland is not in the EU and therefore would still be accessible.

EU member states can override the European council recommendations should they wish to.

The Foreign Office currently advises against all nonessential travel to most of the European ski nations.

UK holidaymakers Could be Banned from EU after January 1st

Austria/Italy border

Majority in Italy Support Covid-19 Restrictions

More than half of Italians think it is right to give up personal freedom to protect public health.

That’s the finding of a survey by a survey by Censis research institute.

57.8% of respondents accept that the government should decide “when and under what conditions they can leave their houses, what they can or cannot do, who they can see and where” to protect health.

The percentage is highest among young people, the survey showed, reaching a peak of 64.7% among those aged between 18 and 34.

Some 79.8% of Italians were supportive of tough curbs at Christmas.

It was carried out before the latest restrictions were announced.

Italian mountain areas out of bounds to visitors amid fears of third wave

Latest restriction in Italy revealed with huge impact on mountain areas

Around 77% of respondents said they were in favour of “severe punishment” for those who do not obey the covid-19 measures.

Most respect security measures, such as wearing protective face masks and avoiding public gatherings.

Fear was the dominant emotion among Italians in 2020 with 73.4% saying they felt anxious and scared.

The Aosta Valley, Italy

The Aosta Valley, Italy

Italy is to impose a mandatory quarantine on anyone arriving from the UK over the Christmas period.

From 21st December to 6th January there will be an obligatory 14-day self-isolation period, even for those with a negative Covid-19 test.

Italy has also decided to close its ski resorts until 6th January.

Until 21st December UK holidaymakers can enter Italy with a negative Covid test, or take a test at selected airports on arrival.

Wednesday 9th December

New Restrictions at Swiss Ski Resorts from Midnight

Closed ski lifts – cable cars, gondolas and covered chairs – must be only two thirds full from tomorrow, as part of new measures imposed by the Swiss government.

Lift companies will also have to ensure that waiting areas are arranged to allow for social distancing.

Photos of crowds packed closely waiting for lifts in Zermatt and Verbier have done the rounds on social media recently, with lift companies later putting in place measures to control queues.

All ski areas will also need permission to open from their cantonal authorities, who will decide whether to give approval on the basis of the “epidemiological situation” in the area, the test and trace capacity and the state of the health system.

The authorisation will be needed for resorts that are already open, which include Verbier, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Arosa, Crans-Montana, Laax, Engleberg, and Davos/Klosters.

Any further resorts planning to open by 22nd December will have to apply for authorisation by this Friday, 11th December.

Arosa, Switzerland

Arosa, Switzerland

All ski lift operators are required to put in place a protection plan.

It includes:

  • closed means of transport can only be filled to 2/3 of their capacity
  • the flow of people on the access routes from public transport stops and parking spaces to transport facilities and their access and waiting areas must be organised in such a way that the required distance can be met
  • the wearing of a face mask is compulsory during  journeys made by means of the transport facilities; in queues in front of these facilities; the required distance must also be respected in the queues
  • people with COVID-19 or showing symptoms of a COVID-19 infection cannot be admitted to the ski area
  • the protection plan must be coordinated with the protection plans of winter sports resorts and operators of catering establishments located in the ski area
  • compliance with the measures provided for in the protection plan must be checked
  • visitors who, despite several reminders, do not comply with the measures of the protection plan must be excluded from the ski area
  • In ski areas, until 5.30 pm, customers are only allowed to enter the enclosed spaces of catering establishments if there is a table at their disposal

Shops in Switzerland have also been told that they must allow 10 square metres between customers, compared to the previous 4 sq m.

“The Federal Council urges the population to limit each private meeting or restaurant to people from a maximum of two households, in order to keep the number of contacts as low as possible. The limit of 10 people is maintained,” a declaration sent out by the Valais Canton states.

Another UK Ski Tour Operator Collapses Into Administration 

Alpine Elements, which has been going for 23 years, went into administration on Tuesday, blaming Covid-19 and a lack of government support.

But the owner, James Hardiman, has bought the brand having recently found a financial backer and hopes to continue trading.

“I am deeply sorry for this outcome, but this has been without question one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in 23 years of running my Company,” he said in a statement to customers.

“We have tried so hard (for so long) to try and find a way through this, but the devastating effects of COVID with its continued travel restrictions, lockdowns and – crucially for us – the lack of UK government support and guidance, have left us in an impossible situation.”

Alpine Elements

Alpine Elements claimed to be the UK’s largest independent operator of exclusive catered ski chalets and hotels, offering holidays to France and Austria.

Its website is still up with no apparent mention of the administration.

Alpine Elements is the latest ski company to face problems.

PlanetSKI understands it has been unable to pay back around £2.5 million owed to customers whose holidays were cancelled when the pandemic closed the Alps in mid-March.

Customers will now have to get their money back through the ATOL scheme, ABTA or their credit/debit card issuers.

Read the full details in our separate story:

EU Still Hopes to Reach a Deal With Switzerland Over Skiing

The Reuters news agency reports that the EU is still trying to reach an agreement for a level playing field with Switzerland over the opening of ski resorts.

“Concerning Switzerland, talks are ongoing,” said France’s junior Minister of European Affairs, Clement Beaune.

“It’s the sole point where coordination is not quite there yet. But we’re talking to Swiss authorities to avoid any type of unfair competition.”

“We’re hoping Switzerland will put restrictive measures in place,” he added.

Last Friday Switzerland decided to keep it ski resorts open with tighter restrictions in place, Swiss Ski resorts to open over Xmas.

It stressed that it would be for the “domestic market” and that as a non-EU country it was able to do what it decided was in its sovereign interests.

There are limited rules on people coming into the country from abroad, though it has introduced some measures.

Italy, France and Germany have delayed ski resorts being able to open until January and are putting border controls in place for people coming from Switzerland.

See here for the full details of the current state of play:

Austria opens its ski resorts on December 24th but with hotels, bars/restaurants and other facilities closed it is aimed at locals only.

In the Pyrenees Andorra has decided to remain shut until January as a sign of ‘loyalty’ to its European neighbours.

The exact details of the reportedly ongoing talks between Switzerland and the EU are unclear.

Skiing in Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland

It comes as Covid-19 cases continue to rise and the federal government wants to impose new nationwide measures.

It has plans to ban most public events and impose early closing times on restaurants and shops nationwide from this weekend.

The measures could come into force on Saturday 12th December and remain in place until 20th January 2021.

The measures are not aimed at snowsports.

The proposals include limiting private gatherings to five people from a maximum of two households with some easing at Xmas and New Year.

Restaurants, sports and leisure facilities and shops would close at 7pm each evening and remain shut on Sundays.

Ski resorts would be exempt as an “outdoor activity” and allowed to run their lifts.

The measures will be discussed with the cantons, and the Swiss government plans to meet again on Friday, ahead of a final decision on the new measures.

The Health Minister, Alain Berset, described the current coronavirus situation as “dangerous” and President Simonetta Sommaruga said cases were rising “too quickly and too strongly”.

The second wave of Covid-19 in Switzerland has been worse than the first amid generally more relaxed restrictions.

Cases in Switzerland

Cases in Switzerland

Deaths in Switzerland

Deaths in Switzerland

Tuesday 8th December

Train Services Stopped Between Switzerland and Italy

Swiss Federal Railways has said that the connections would be halted at the border crossings in the Alps as its staff simply did not have the capacity to carry out the coronavirus checks required by Italian authorities.

Swiss Federal Railways, SBB, has said the trains will stop this Thursday

The new rules include temperature checks.

The trains will travel to the Swiss/Italian border in the Alps and then go no further.

The move affects dozens of daily routes on regional trains that connect the two countries, where many workers travel daily across the border from northern Italy to Switzerland.

It also affects long-distance trains including the ones between Milan and Frankfurt in Germany.

It is unclear how long the suspension will last.

SBB said it will refund people who have already bought tickets.

See more here:

Swiss train

FIS Reject Scandinavian Call For Changes to Tour de Ski

Norway, Sweden and Finland asked organisers to shorten the programme due to the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three countries are the leading nations in the cross-country discipline and have already withdrawn from all of this month’s International Ski Federation Cross-Country World Cup events over coronavirus concerns.

Eight Tour de Ski stages are currently scheduled for January 1st to 10th.

They are to be held in Val Müstair in Switzerland, Toblach in Italy and Val di Fiemme, also in Italy.

FIS said that “the investment of the Tour de Ski organisers must also be respected.”

It added that “making such a decision so late would have a huge impact on organisers and country ski federations.”

“Organising a World Cup costs a lot. No-one is ready to lose money, even if the change seems logistically sensible,” said the FIS cross-country race director, Pierre Mignerey.

“The race is about more than just skiing from start to finish – adding or deleting events would have a huge impact.”

International Ski Federation

International Ski Federation

Italian Man Rows With Wife & then Walks 280 Miles From His Home in The Alps to ‘Cool Off’

The story has gone viral in Italy.

The 48-year old man, who hasn’t been named, quarrelled with his wife and left the house in the Alps to go for a walk.

One week, and 280 miles later, he was found by policewandering aimlessly in the middle of the night in Fano on the Adriatic coast.

The police checked his identity and found he had been reported missing by his wife.

The man told police “I came here on foot, I didn’t use any transport”.

He said “along the way I met people who offered me food and drink”.

“I’m OK, just a bit tired,” he said.

He walked an average of 37 miles per day.

His wife came to collect him, but not before he had been fined €400 (£362) for breaching coronavirus curfew regulations.

Como to Fano

Como to Fano

Skiing Can Continue in California During State Stay-at-Home Order

Most of California, the largest state in the USA, is under a stay-at-home order to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The rules, which affect around 85% of the state’s 40 million people and will remain in place over Christmas.

The Regional Stay Home order will allow outdoor recreation, including skiing and snowboarding, to continue operating.

Here’s the reaction at Mammoth Mountain.

Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth Mountain, California

“Mammoth Mountain will continue to operate for skiing and snowboarding during this time as permitted by the State of California,” said a statement from the resort.

“We recognize, as does Governor Newsom, that outdoor recreation is essential to our guests’ and community’s mental health and we will continue to provide skiing and riding during these challenging times.

“Mammoth Mountain lodging properties will be limited to homeowners and critical infrastructure services at this time.

“Food and beverage services will be adjusted as will retail capacity.

“Lodges can be accessed for restrooms, lockers and guests services, and guests will be required to limit their time inside.”

Strict rules are in place:

  • Masks are required in lift lines, shuttle lines, on shuttles, on lifts/gondolas, indoors and anywhere you see “mask zone” signage. Wear a mask or lose your pass.
  •  There are  new lift line configurations, and loading procedures.
  •   Restaurants and cafeterias are currently operating at 25% indoor capacity.

“Ski & ride with caution, respect the space of other shredders and stay on marked trails. We are so grateful to be skiing and riding again with all of you – let’s do our part to help us #StaySafeToStayOpen” the resort added.

Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth Mountain, California, USA

Other resorts in California, including Squaw Valley, are also open under new restrictions.

“A friendly reminder that we are loading chairlifts differently this year,” said Squaw Valley.

“When you slide up to the lift line, be sure your mask or two layer gaiter is covering your mouth and nose.

“Signs and staff will direct you to self-group with people in your party.

“Mazes are designed a bit differently to allow for social distancing, and the length of skis and snowboards lend themselves to naturally creating distance between people in lift lines.

“There will be no singles lines this season, but you may ride the chair alone—our lift attendants will not require you to ride a chairlift with others you don’t know.

“If you choose to ride a chair with someone outside your party, please keep at least one seat empty in between, per CA state guidelines.”

Squaw Valley, California

Squaw Valley, California

Squaw Valley, California

Squaw Valley, California

California has the largest number of confirmed cases in the USA and reported an additional 30,000 infections on Sunday, a new record.

It has recorded more than 1.3 million cases and around 21,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Intensive care capacity in hospitals in the state is getting dangerously low with the extra cases.

Some question whether people should be leaving their homes for skiing and snowboarding.

World Economic Forum Cancels Davos and Heads to Singapore

The World Economic Forum, WEF, has been forced to move next year’s event from Switzerland to Singapore because of Covid-19.

The event traditionally takes place in the ski resort of Davos in January and is the annual gathering of the world’s political, economic and business leaders.

Next year it will held in Singapore from 13th – 16th May.

“The change in location reflects the Forum’s priority of safeguarding the health and safety of participants and the host community,” said the WEF.

It added that “in light of the current situation with regards to Covid-19 cases” and after “careful consideration”, Singapore was best placed to hold the “in-person” meeting next year.

It plans to return to Davos in 2022.

World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum

Monday 7th December

2021 Inferno Races Cancelled Due to Covid-19

The 78th edition of the event was due to take place January 20th – 23rd in Murren in Switzerland but it has been called off.

The announcement was made by the Kandahar Club earlier today.

Inferno cancelled

Inferno cancelled

It was first organised by a group of ski-crazy Brits in 1928, & today it’s the world’s largest amateur ski race.

PlanetSKI’s Vanessa Fisher took part in 2018.

See here for her report from the time:

Inferno in the Snow

Woodcutter uphill section – ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni

Woodcutter uphill section – ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni

Vanessa and her teammates

Vanessa and her teammates

Snowboarder Fined $1,150 for Breaking Quarantine in Canada

The 45-year old man was caught driving from Vancouver to Whistler on day 12 of his 14-day quarantine period.

He was stopped on the Sea-to-Sky Highway after a passing police patrol car officer noticed his car had California plates and his insurance had expired.

The officer spoke with him and discovered he had recently entered Canada.

Checks were made with public health officials and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and confirmed the man still had two days left of his 14-day quarantine.

The man was fined $1,150 under the Quarantine Act and sent home.

Canadians and foreigners entering Canada have to quarantine for two weeks.

Canada

Canada

Round Up of Resorts Open/Closed + What Rest of Season May Look Like

Most have closed but some are open after a hectic week of decision making and high drama.

Which are open, what are the restrictions and when might we see the others opening?

We predicted on PlanetSKI this time last week it was going to be a crucial 7-days.

And it was.

France, Italy and Germany shut their ski areas until January.

Austria opens on 24th December with severe restrictions in place.

Switzerland is going ahead with some tighter rules.

Over in the Pyrenees France and Andorra will be shut and it seems some resorts , but not all, will open in Spain.

In Scandinavia Norway, Finland and Sweden have opened with skiing set to start in Scotland before Xmas.

See here for our full and detailed report.

The Aosta Valley, Italy

The Aosta Valley, Italy

Huge Queues for Verbier Lift

Photos have been posted on social media showing people apparently not social distancing.

The resort has now put barriers in place, but questions remain as other resorts are set to open.

Switzerland has decided to allow all its resorts to open despite many European countries keeping them shut.

As sure as night follows day it was bound to happen.

The image shows people at the bottom on the main lift in La Chable down on the valley floor beneath Verbier on Saturday.

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

The queue of people would have gone inside and then up a tight staircase to the main gondola.

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

The person who took and posted the image commented, “The photos taken on Saturday morning from the cabins in Le Châble are inadmissible, especially since restaurants and other places of leisure have to remain closed”.

The president of the Valais Council of State, Christophe Darbellay, described it as an “unacceptable” situation and contacted the head of the Televerbier lift company, Laurent Vaucher, to take immediate action.

On Friday the Federal Government announced that ski resorts could open despite the fact that France, Italy and Germany are keeping their resorts closed.

It also announced an increase in restrictions and measures.

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

Will Ski Resorts in Spain Open for Skiing at Xmas?

It looks like some will and some won’t, with final decisions expected this week.

Elsewhere in the Pyrenees Andorra and France are not opening until January.

In Spain travel has been restricted between December 23rd and December 6th, with Spaniards only able to cross regional borders for family visits.

Other reasons include include, work, study and seeking medical treatment.

The rules currently make no exception for skiing.

If resorts open it will be locals only.

Spain has a host of resorts in the Pyrenees and conditions are looking rather good as Xmas approaches.

The snow guns were turned on last week as the temperatures dropped, and then the snow fell.

In huge early season amounts.

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Formigal, Spain

Formigal, Spain

But will resorts open for skiing and snowboarding or remain closed to stop the spread of Covid-19?

See the details in our full report:

Will Ski Resorts in Spain Open for Xmas?

Covid-19 Testing Centres In Tignes

The French ski resort has set up two screening centres which are available for locals to get tested.

Local officials say the screening will be at the heart of its efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus and will be available for as long as is necessary.

The ‘trace-alert-protect’ system will, they say, “strengthen the credibility of the resort with a view to opening up and welcoming tourists.”

The testing is initially for those with symptoms of the virus, vulnerable individuals, public service workers and some other professionals.

Appointments must be made and the tests are covered by the French health insurance.

Tignes, France

Tignes, France

Cat in Switzerland Tests Positive for Covid-19

The case was found by the veterinary medicine laboratory at the University of Zurich.

The cat had been tested as part of a research project and came from a household with a person who had also tested positive.

Cats, like dogs, are however not believed to play a major role in the spread of the virus.

It is unclear if the cat infected the person, or the other way round.

The Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs said that it believes transmission from humans to cats is rare, but it cannot be ruled out.

People are urged to observe basic hygiene rules, even with cats.

This includes no close contact between animals and humans such as licking of the face or letting the animal sleep in the owner’s bed.

People are advised not to put a facemask on pets “for the sake of animal welfare”.

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 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 9th: Cornoavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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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