Covid-19 Regulations in the Ski Nations of Europe & Beyond
27th December 2020
Last modified on December 29th, 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
It’s time again to take a fresh look at what is happening across the ski resorts of Europe and North America.
Much has changed in the past 7-days in our world of skiing and snowboarding…
Switzerland has seen the biggest changes with many resorts opening & some closing.
Restaurants in resorts and on the slopes are shutting, except for takeaways.
The new form of coronavirus in the UK led to border restrictions across Europe, with Switzerland going one stage further by ordering people into immediate and backdated quarantine.
Austria opened its resorts on 24th December for locals only, and then went into its third lockdown 2-days later.
Some ski resorts have opened in France though no lifts are turning. They are due to open on January 7th, but over the weekend the health minister did not rule out a third lockdown
Italy has seen a continued surge of cases and it remains in lockdown.
Resorts are closed and mountain areas off limits to everyone except locals.
Ski Resorts in Slovenia and Slovakia are open.
Cases in Slovenia are some of the highest in Europe.
In the Pyrenees some more resorts in Spain have opened, with travel restrictions in place. Others remain closed.
Andorra’s resorts are shut until at least January, with cases per head of population among the highest in Europe.
In Scandinavia, Norway and Finland have opened 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 have opened, but cases continue to grow.
Closer to home in Scotland, Cairngorm has shut due to Level Four restrictions, but Glencoe and the Lecht are set to open for locals.
On a more optimistic note many of the alpine EU nations are now rolling out vaccine programmes.
Switzerland has already started.
Resorts are still 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.
And 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 went back into lockdown on 26th December, just 2-days after the resorts were allowed to open on Xmas Eve, Ski resorts remain open as Austria goes into third lockdown.
It is due to end on January 24th.
From January 18th “Tourism and holidays in Austria should also be possible” said the new rules, with a negative test for covid-19 required.
Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said Austria would enter a three-phase lockdown process in order to “return to normal”.
In Styria, ski resorts will measure the temperature of skiers – although the testing will be voluntary.
In the resorts there are additional, extensive minimum requirements, such as the mandatory wearing of FFP2 masks in cable cars and capacity restrictions for gondolas.
A mass testing programme is due to start on January 18th and those who partake will be allowed more freedoms.
Skiing remains for locals only, and international visitors are not encouraged with quarantine measures in place,
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 397 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
Resorts are allowed to open, but the ski lifts are not turning.
They could open on January 7th at the earliest.
People can ski tour, cross-country ski and snowshoe – some are making the most of it, French resorts prepare for Xmas with lifts running.
Our roving reporter, Chris Moran, headed uphill from his home near, Courchevel and warns of the dangers, PlanetSKI Heads Uphill.
France generally has more relaxed national restrictions than other alpine countries with regional travel allowed, plus no limits on staying with family and friends.
However the French Health Minister, Olivier Veran, has said on Sunday that a third lockdown is not ruled out as cases continue to rise.
It is seeing 15,000 new cases per day. It had wanted to get them down to 5,000 per day.
International travel for non-essential reasons is allowed.
There is a nationwide curfew from 20:00 to 07:00.
The curfew will not apply on New Year’s Eve.
All bars restaurants and cafes remain closed until at least January 20th.
France has around 300 ski areas.
Masks are required in all public places.
France currently has 267 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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.
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.
Some areas will have night-time curfews.
Current rules remain until January 10th.
Germany currently has 393 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 New Year (December 31st-January 3rd) and Epiphany (January 5-6th) .
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.
Italy has a nightly curfew from 10pm to 5am.
Only people with a residency in Italy can enter the country from the UK up to January 6th.
Between January 7th-15th, entry from the UK will only be allowed for emergency reasons or for repatriation, and while the quarantine requirement will remain in place testing will not be necessary.
It’s not yet known what the rules will be after January 15th, when Italy is expected to announce a new emergency decree.
Italy currently has 371 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
Switzerland has its ski resorts open, though more are closing and restaurants have now shut across the country (including restaurants by the piste).
It is an ever changing picture and Switzerland Tourism has posted a useful page, Switzerland Tourism launches overview of regulations, canton by canton
Last week it closed its borders and ordered recent UK visitors into quarantine as the new variety of virus was discovered.
Some flights are now operating.
There are more than 300 ski resorts in Switzerland with a total of 1,815 ski lifts.
Switzerland currently has 661 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
Elsewhere in the Alps
Bansko and Pamporovo are open.
“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.
Hotels and holiday homes remain open.
The Resort of Borovets opens it slopes on 28th December.
“Ski season 20/21 starts on December 28th. We are expecting you,” said the resort.
It opened up a gondola lift on 24th December, but for foot passengers only.
Bulgaria currently has 425 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 it is 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.
Slovakia currently has 634 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 965 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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.
Three weeks ago we posted a detailed update of the situation in the Alps, the Pyrenees, Scandinavia and beyond to try to keep you informed of 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.
And then again a week ago on 20th December.
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 660 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 the open resorts in Spain.
See the French section above for further details.
More resorts have opened, though others remain shut.
Some opened in the Pyrenees two weeks ago and others have followed suit.
Most of the ski areas in the Catalonia area of the Pyrenees are open, including Baqueira Beret and La Molina.
In the Aragon area of the Pyrenees Formigal and Cerler remain shut.
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.
In Granada the resort of Sierra Nevada is open.
Spain currently has 249 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 tourists, 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 100 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
Resorts in Norway are open and there are currently no specific rules against ski resorts opening their lifts and slopes.
Hemsedal, Beitostolen, 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 101 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
In Sweden the ski resorts are open including Are, Salen and Lofsdalen.
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 878 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
With tighter restrictions in place in Scotland, Cairngorm has announced its closure, Cairngorm to close due to Covid-19
Glencoe and the Lecht hope to continue but it will be for locals only.
The UK currently has 475 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
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 somewhat 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 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.