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Round Up of Resorts Open/Closed + What Rest of Ski 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?

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

And it was.

France, Italy and Germany have 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.

So, lets look in detail at the state of play as there is much more detail than the headline facts of Open or Closed:

The Alps

Austria

Ski resorts will be allowed to open on Xmas Eve, December 24th.

Hotels and accommodation providers in resorts will remain closed until January 7th.

Bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs will also remain shut until January 7th, however they may be allowed to open earlier if infection rates allow.

Skiing over the festive period is for locals only, and international visitors are not encouraged with quarantine measures in place, Austria allows skiing at Xmas, but only just & not for many

“From December 24th, individual sports outdoors such as skiing will be possible again so that the Austrian population has the chance to engage in sporting activity over the holidays,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

All those travellers who come to Austria from countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a 7-day period will need to quarantine for 10 days.

The neigbouring ski nations of Italy, Switzerland and Germany are all over this threshold.

As is the UK.

Austria currently has 229 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Tirol, Austria

Tirol, Austria. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

France

Technically speaking a final decision will not be taken until December 11th or the following few days, but it looks certain the lifts will be shut after pronouncements from President Macron, French ski resorts can open but lifts must remain shut.

Demonstrations are taking place in the ski areas, but it is unlikely they will make much difference, More French resorts protest about plans to close ski lifts.

France has a round 300 ski areas.

However, people will be allowed to ski tour, cross-country ski and snowshoe.

“Naturally, everybody is free to travel to resorts to enjoy the clean air of our beautiful mountains, and the shops which will be open, although bars and restaurants won’t be,” said the Prime Minster, JeanCastex.

It seems people will be taking him up on the offer.

“Some of our clients still want to travel to do other things, cross country etc… and we will therefore continue to allow them to do so,” said Xavier Schouller from Peak Retreats to PlanetSKI.

Restrictions have also been put in the place to try to stop French skiers and snowboarders heading to open resorts in Switzerland, France reveals measures to stop people skiing abroad.

President Emmanuel Macron wants to avoid “creating an imbalance with ski resorts in France”.

The current lockdown ends on 15th December, and this will be replaced by a nationwide curfew from 21:00 to 07:00.

The curfew will not apply on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

France currently has 110 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Germany

All resorts in Bavaria have been closed until January and restrictions put in place for people thinking of heading to the slopes in neighbouring Switzerland.

Most of the top resorts are in Bavaria but Germans also go to Arbor along the Czech border, Feldburg in the Black Forest and Winterberg the Rothaargebirge mountain range near Cologne.

“We just can’t have the classic ski holiday,” said Bavarian state premiere, Markus Söder.

Bars, restaurants and entertainment venues are closed but schools and shops are open

Most major Christmas markets in Germany have already been cancelled, but some local ones are outlining plans to go ahead on a reduced scale.

As for New Year, fireworks displays have been cancelled while letting them off in the street is likely to be discouraged.

Current rules remain until January 10th

Germany currently has 156 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Italy

Ski resort will remain closed until January 7th, though the slopes can be used by professional and non-professional athletes.

There are restrictions for people heading to neighbouring Switzerland to ski and returning with a 10-day quarantine for those arriving in Italy from foreign countries, beginning on December 21th.

That means people cannot head up from Cervinia and then go and ski in the linked Swiss resort of Zermatt.

Or drive through the St Bernardtunnel  from the Aosta Valley to go skiing in Verbier,

The measures are in a new decree or DPCM, recently issued, Restrictions in Italy revealed with huge impact on mountain areas.

The measures are in force until January 15th.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said: “It’s not possible to allow holidays on the snow, we can’t afford it”

Restaurants can stay open, including at Christmas.

Churches are free to remain open, but a 22:00 nationwide curfew means the traditional midnight mass is unlikely to happen.

Italian Christmas markets have been banned.

Hugging and kissing, a favourite Italian pastime, is also discouraged.

Minister Giuseppe Conte has told Italians to expect a “more sober Christmas, without Christmas Eve gatherings, hugs and kisses”.

Italy currently has 238 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

The Aosta Valley, Italy

The Aosta Valley, Italy. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

Switzerland

It has said its resorts can open as usual, but tighter restrictions have been imposed.

It said it is for the “domestic market” and international visitors are being discouraged from heading to its slopes, Swiss ski resorts to open over Xmas.

There are more than 300 ski resorts in Switzerland with a total of 1,815 ski lifts.

“In Switzerland, the Federal Council, the authorities and the tourism industry are convinced that the Swiss way is right – for the moment – and that the winter season can take place safely,” said Markus Berger from Switzerland Tourism

There are more than 300 ski resorts in Switzerland with a total of 1,815 ski lifts.

Switzerland currently has 304 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Switzerland. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

Other Main Stories on PlanetSKI

Historic Levels of Snow Falls in Parts of the The Alps

Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding

Xmas Presents for Skiers and Snowboarders

Elsewhere in the Alps

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has no plans to cancel ski holidays in the country, with all three major resorts — Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets — to open in December.

“There is no reason to cancel the ski season. It’s not the sport but the apres-ski parties that sparked the spread of Covid-19 in Europe,” said a statement from Bansko.

Restaurants across the country are shut until 21st December.

Hotels and holiday homes remain open.

Bulgaria currently has 272 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Slovenia

A decision on whether to open the ski resorts in the country’s Julian Alps is expected shortly.

There is currently a ban on travel on public transport, and this applies to ski lifts.

The ski areas are expected to be allowed to open and are preparing the slopes.

The county though has said it will likely obide by EU instructions and this is likely to be to remain shut until January.

There are no known restrictions on the ski areas of Romania or Slovakia.

The Pyrenees

Andorra

The Principality, that is sandwich between France and Spain high up in the Pyrenees, has said it will not open its ski resorts until January, Andorra closes its ski slopes.

“It is a difficult and painful decision, but from a health point of view, it is better to postpone the opening of the ski resorts until January,” said the Prime Minister of Andorra, Xavier Espot.

It stressed it was keen to display its “loyalty” to Europe.

The ski resorts had planned to open last weekend.

Andorra currently has 435 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

France

Resorts are to be closed as in the Alps with a final decision expected after December 11th.

Restrictions have also been put in the place to try to stop French skiers and snowboarders heading to open resorts in Spain.

See the French section above for further details.

Spain

It is a mixed picture in Spain with some resorts in the Pyrenees set to open this week, while it looks like others will stay shut, Will ski resorts in Spain open for Xmas?

Sierra Nevada is set to open on 10th December and Baquiera Beret on 11th December.

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 work, study and medical treatment.

The rules currently make no exception for skiing.

If resorts open it will be locals only.

Spain’s Tourism Minister, Reyes Maroto, said that the “government is in favour of opening in a safe way”.

The Spanish traditionally celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings with parades on the evening on 5th January, but the government has recommended that celebrations do not take place.

We will update you with news on Spanish resorts when announcements are made this week.

Spain currently has 119 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Scandinavia

Finland

18 ski areas are open including the main ones of in the north of Yllas, Ruka and Levi.

In Central Finland, Jyvaskyla and Vimpeli are open.

In the south of the country Kalpalinna, Sveitsi and Solvalle-Swinghill are open.

All ski areas areas are free to fire up their lifts.

The border is currently closed to leisure travellers, but people can enter Finland from 13th  December without quarantine if their visit is 3-days or less and they have a negative test result.

If people wish to stay longer then they need to go into quarantine for 3-days and then have a second negative test before being free to go about their business.

Finland currently has 54 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Norway

Resorts in Norway are beginning to open and there are currently no specific rules against ski resorts opening their lifts and slopes.

Local authorities can close down sports facilities but this has so far only happened in cities.

Kvifjell opened at the weekend and one of our reader, Scott Hammond, was out skiing.

“Kvitfjell is open and doing a great job and their absolute best with keeping people at distance. I hope people respect this throughout the winter,” said Scott

There are strict quarantine regulations for people entering Norway from overseas.

People have to stay at a special ‘quarantine hotel’ for 10-days.

The Prime Minister has advised against travel between different Norwegian regions

No more than 20 people are allowed to attend private events at public places. There is also a national ban on serving alcohol after midnight.

Norway  currently has 46 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Sweden

In Sweden the ski resort of Idra Fjell is open with others set to follow suit.

There is guidance for travel requesting people not to travel between regions.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency is expected to issue new recommendations in mid-December, but so far there are no specific guidelines for ski resorts.

Up to eight people in the same group can eat at restaurants and the sale of alcohol is banned after 10pm.

Sweden currently has 346 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Scotland

This might be one of the few options for British skiers and resorts are set to open on December 19th.

There are though travel restrictions in Scotland and England.

And of course the snow conditions are, er, ‘changeable’.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be looking at the prospects of skiing in Scotland shortly and updating.

The UK currently has 159 confirmed cases  of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

The Nevis Range has said it will not be opening in December, Scottish ski resort suspends its upcoming season

PlanetSKI in Glenshee

PlanetSKI in Glenshee. Image © Rod Frazer.

Elsewhere around the world both Canada and the USA have closed their borders to international travellers.

As has Japan.

So, what about the future, what will the rest of the 2020/21 season look like?

That is the million-dollar question.

All the European nations that have closed their slopes say it is only until January.

However, that will depend on the state of the coronavirus spread.

Some predict circumstances will not change, and that by January Covid-19 will once again be on the rise after the relaxations in the festive period produce a rise in cases.

The evidence points to that.

Even if cases have not had time to appear the predictions, and that is what most lockdowns and restrictions work on, will likely be unfavourable and hositals could look like being under pressure.

Here at PlanetSKI we are keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed.

So are others.

“We we remain optimistic and hope that with all the news measures and regulations, we can still look forward to better times in January,” said a statement from the Tirol to PlanetSKI.

“Unfortunately this is not good for tourism, this does not make it easy in this situation. But as a consequence, the infection rate should decrease, so that this can change again.

“Let’s hope that in this way, the numbers can decrease. Health and safety are simply the top priority”.

However it is worth remembering that President Macron has said the French ski resorts could only reopen in January “under favourable conditions”.

There are real concerns that Switzerland’s more relaxed approach could encourage the virus to spread.

Some senior Swiss medical professionals predict a new wave of hospital cases will reach a daily peak of nearly 1,000 by the end of January — two-thirds higher than that of November.

“The circulation of the virus is still strong in Switzerland,” said Isabella Eckerle from the University Hospitals of Geneva. She is co-head of the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases.

“If we continue to relax the restrictions and people move around a lot at Christmas, there will be an upsurge in cases from mid-January, followed by the third wave in February,” she added.

Here at PlanetSKI we dearly hope conditions allow the ski areas to open in January, but some predict they will be opening and closing again depending on surges in the virus.

As happened in the ski areas of New Zealand and Australia last summer.

Most of the scientific experts say coronavirus will not be brought under control until at least the Spring at the earliest.

“I am going to book a holiday for 2020/21 to keep my spirts up. I might even book two,” was how one reader put it to us.

“I will remain in a position to move quickly if the situation changes in the mountains this season and I can get there, but I am not so hopeful about January and February.

”With luck, things may look better towards the end of the season and, hey, April is my favourite month to ski anyway.”

“Whatever happens the mountains will be there when this dreadful pandemic is over.”

Here at PlanetSKI who are we to disagree?

Aosta Valley, Italy

PlanetSKI in the Italian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI.

The situation is changing on a daily, if not hourly, basis and readers should make all their own checks to ensure they are familiar with the current restrictions.

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