Resorts Open/Close + What Rest of Ski Season May Look Like
21st December 2020
Last modified on December 22nd, 2020
Which ski resorts are open, what are the restrictions and when might we see the others opening? Check out our weekly review of where we now stand as the situation changes across the Alps, the Pyrenees & beyond. UPDATED
Two weeks ago we posted a detailed update of the situation in the Alps, the Pyrenees, Scandinavia and beyond to try to keep you informed on an ever-changing situation.
35,000 people read it, so we posted a full update on Sunday 13th December after a similar number of people showed interest.
One week on it’s time again, with much changed in our world of skiing…
France has ended its national lockdown and some ski resorts are open, though no lifts are turning.
Austria is opening resorts on 24th December for locals only, but is going into its third lockdown 2-days later.
Italy has seen a surge of cases and is in lockdown over Xmas Day.
Resorts remain closed and mountain areas off limits to everyone except locals.
Some ski resorts are now closing in Switzerland, canton by canton, though the main ones remain open.
We expect them to be open for Xmas with tough restrictions in place, though some observers believe it is only a matter of time before they shut as hospital beds continue to fill.
Resorts have continued to open in Slovenia and Slovakia.
Cases in Slovenia are some of the highest in Europe.
In the Pyrenees some resorts in Spain have opened, with travel restrictions in place.
Andorra’s resorts remain closed until at least January, with cases per head of population among the highest in Europe.
In Scandinavia, Norway and Finland are opening more ski areas with Covid-19 under control and they are perhaps the best countries for skiing and snowboarding at the moment.
In Sweden the ski resorts are opening, but cases continue to surge.
King Carl XVI Gustaf has said his country “failed” to save lives with its relatively relaxed approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Swedish PM has agreed.
Closer to home in Scotland the weather put paid to resort openings on December 19th.
Tight travel restrictions and other measures mean snowsports are off the cards for many, even if the forecast snow does fall.
On a more optimistic note many of the alpine nations have plans to roll out vaccine programmes.
Resorts are hoping to open in January.
But some see any early January openings as wishful thinking.
There is some optimism and hope for the second half of the winter… watch this space.
But do remember this:
So, let’s look in detail at the current state of play as there is much more detail than the headline facts of Open or Closed:
Austria has announced a return to lockdown on 26th December – just 2-days after the resorts are allowed to open on Xmas Eve, December 24th.
Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said on Friday that Austria would enter a three-phase lockdown process in order to “return to normal”.
“We have decided that we will spend Christmas as planned, but then tighten the measures again,” said Kurz.
Those who take part in a mass testing programme will be allowed more freedoms.
Rules surrounding how and whether to allow outdoor sports, including skiing, will be left for local authorities to determine.
We await the details.
Whatever happens skiing will be 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
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 neighbouring ski nations of Italy, Switzerland and Germany are all over this threshold.
The Chancellor warned that the prospect for the first few months of 2021 was “very, very gloomy”, with a return to normality only expected in the summer.
Austria currently has 217 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 227.
The week before it was 229.
Updated, Tuesday 22nd December
What Austria Ski resorts Will Look Like Under Next National Lockdown
The Federal government has ordered Austria into a full national lockdown on December 26th.
Details of the new restrictions and the path forward have been released:
France is now out of its national lockdown and, though the resorts are open, the ski lifts are not turning.
People are allowed to ski tour, cross-country ski and snowshoe and some are making the most of it, French resorts prepare for Xmas with lifts running.
It generally has more relaxed national restrictions than other alpine countries with regional travel allowed, no limits on staying with family and friends.
International travel for non-essential reasons is allowed, but people are not allowed to come from the UK due to the mutated form of coronavirus developing in London and the South East of England.
There is a a nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 07:00.
The curfew will not apply on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
All bars restaurants and cafes remain closed until at least January 20th.
France has around 300 ski areas.
“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.
Quarantine restrictions have also been put in the place to try to stop French skiers and snowboarders heading to the 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”.
Masks are required in all public places.
France currently has 126 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 120.
The week before it was 110.
All resorts in Bavaria are closed until January and restrictions 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 premier, Markus Söder.
This past week tighter restrictions have been introduced with an Xmas lockdown.
There are limited gatherings with small numbers of the same families allowed.
Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people from two households, with an additional four close family members allowed over Xmas.
Some areas will have night-time curfews.
Current rules remain until January 10th.
Germany currently has 201 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 170.
The week before it was 156.
Italy has introduced a tough national lockdown with mountain areas open to locals only.
Ski resorts will remain closed until January 7th at the very earliest.
The lockdown will be over Christmas (December 24-27th), New Year (December 31st-January 3rd) and Epiphany (January 5-6th) .
Italy has banned flights from the UK due to the new form of covid-19 in the UK.
From December 21st, anyone arriving in Italy from overseas – including from within the EU – must quarantine for 14 days, unless they’re travelling for work, health or emergencies.
From December 21st, people can only cross between regions of Italy for work or health, or in emergencies.
From December 24th to January 6th people won’t be allowed to leave their own town except for essentials.
One ski lift company in Val Gardena has said it will shut for the whole season, Italian ski lift company closes for the season.
Hugging and kissing, a favourite Italian pastime, is also discouraged within families.
Italy has a nightly curfew from 10pm to 5am.
Italy currently has 195 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 203.
The week before it was 238.
Switzerland introduced new nationwide restrictions on Friday and has allowed ski areas to remain open.
Restaurants and bars, sports and recreation centres are closed for a month from December 22nd.
Some areas with lower levels of the virus will be able to ease their restrictions.
Some of the 26 cantons have decided to shut their ski areas anyway.
On Monday Graubunden will be making its decision on whether to close ski resorts, More Swiss Cantons to Close Their Resorts Over Xmas.
Graubunden has a number of major ski resorts including St Moritz, Laax and Davos/Klosters.
Canton Lucerne said on Friday that it would close its ski areas over Christmas due to the “very tense epidemiological situation” and the situation in its hospitals.
Canton Schwyz, with 15 resorts, then followed suit as did the cantons Nidwalden, Zug and Obwalden.
Appenzell Inner Rhodes, Zurich, Uri and St Gallen announced their decision to close on Saturday.
Ski areas will be closed from December 22-29 in all the cantons affected.
After Tuesday December 22nd ski resorts will need local authority approval to remain open.
Switzerland adds parts of Germany, removes Austria from mandatory quarantine list.
There are more than 300 ski resorts in Switzerland with a total of 1,815 ski lifts.
Switzerland currently has 358 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 332.
The week before it was 304.
Update, Monday 21st December:
Quarantine Chaos for UK Skiers In or Heading to Switzerland
All flights are banned for the foreseeable future and all people who have arrived from the UK since the 14th of December are required to go into a 10-day quarantine.
The move has been taken by the Swiss authorities to prevent the new strain of the virus found in England.
See here for more:
Elsewhere in the Alps
Bulgaria has no plans currently to cancel skiing with all three major resorts, Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets, opening ahead of Xmas.
“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 set to open on 21st December.
Hotels and holiday homes remain open.
Bulgaria currently has 230 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 278.
The week before it was 272.
Jasna in the Low Tatras is open and ski resorts 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 operate only as takeaway or delivery. Outdoor terraces will remain closed.
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.”
Slovakia currently has 316 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Last week it was 251.
The skiing season has started in Kranjska Gora, Pohorje above Maribor and at Krvavec, but only for locals.
All facilities such as bars, restaurants and ski schools are shut. Lift passes have to be bought online.
For many ski areas only locals may visit the resort due to the ban on travel between municipalities.
More lifts are set to open as conditions and numbers allow.
Skiers will be required to wear face masks, and restrictions related to the number of persons riding open-air ski lifts are also in place.
While waiting in lines and skiing, skiers are required to keep a safety distance of at least 1.5 metres.
The remaining major ski resorts in the country – Rogla, Kope, Vogel, Kanin and Golte are not open either because of the municipal travel ban or the ban on the use of enclosed gondola lifts.
Slovenia currently has 493 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Last week it was 505.
There are no known restrictions on the ski areas of Romania.
In Poland ski slopes will remain open for locals only. Operators must follow a strict sanitary regime to ensure the safety of both skiers and workers.
The Principality, that is sandwiched 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.
Andorra currently has 366 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 368.
The week before it was 435.
Resorts are to remain closed until at least January 7th, as in the Alps.
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.
More resorts have opened, with others remaining shut.
Baqueira Beret in the Pyrenees opened on Monday 14th after delaying its planned opening on Friday December 11th.
In the Aragon region of the Spanish Pyrenees the resorts of Formigal, Panticosa, Cerler and Valdelinares and Javalambre have delayed opening until the situation is clearer.
Sierra Nevada in Granada opened on 18th December, Some main Spanish ski areas set to open this week.
In Spain travel has been restricted between December 23rd and January 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.
Spain currently has 129 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 93.
The week before it was 119.
18 ski areas are open including the main ones in the north, 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 have been able to 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 56 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7 day period.
This time last week it was 57.
The week before it was 54.
Resorts in Norway are beginning to open and there are currently no specific rules against ski resorts opening their lifts and slopes.
Hemsedal, Geilo, Hafjell, Trysil and Kvitfjell are open.
Local authorities can close down sports facilities but this has so far only happened in cities.
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 54 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 49.
The week before it was 46.
In Sweden the ski resorts of Idra Fjell and Hemavan are open with others following suit.
Sweden’s king, Carl XVI Gustaf, has said his country “failed” to save lives with its relatively relaxed approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sweden, which has never imposed a full lockdown, has seen nearly 350,000 cases and more than 7,800 deaths – a lot more than its Scandinavian neighbours.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he agreed with the king’s remarks.
“Of course the fact that so many have died can’t be considered as anything other than a failure,” Prime Minister Lofven said.
There is guidance for travel, requesting people not to travel between regions.
Sweden’s Public Health Agency is expected to issue new recommendations, 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 423 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 387.
This time kast week it was 346.
It was due to open last weekend but poor weather put a damper on proceedings, Skiing in Scotland: Ski Areas Prepare to Open
Cairngorm opened a small fun park, but the others remain closed.
Scotland might be one of the few options for British skiers but tough new travel measures and restrictions have come into force meaning it is going to be locals only when the snow falls.
The UK currently has 220 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
This time last week it was 171.
The week before it was 159.
The Nevis Range has said it will not be opening in December, Scottish ski resort suspends its upcoming season
In Greece all slopes and skiing facilities remain closed.
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 may the rest of the 2020/21 season look like?
Here at PlanetSKI we dearly hope conditions allow the ski areas to open in January, but that seems highly unlikely.
Some predict they will be opening and closing again across the winter 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 Spring at the earliest.
We repeat what one reader said to us earlier this month.
“I am going to book a holiday for 2020/21 to keep my spirts up. I might even book two,” he said.
“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, or even into March and April.
”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?
We are not expecting to be able to ski any time soon this winter.
We shall remain poised, just in case.
And, by god, are we going to be ready for 2021/20.
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.