Reaction as 100s of UK Skiers Reported to Have Fled Quarantine in Verbier

420 people were contacted by the authorities and told to isolate in their location but only ten are left. Most people’s quarantine has now expired and the reported exodus took place over a week ago. The restrictions were put in place after the UK reported the new variant of the virus.

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It is understood around 50 people left immediately.

Some stayed in their accommodation when they were initially contacted and then left their hotels under cover of darkness.

A handfull contacted their hotel to try to get their money back or request if payment was needed after they had arrived in neighbouring France on their way back to the UK, according to Swiss media.

Some hoteliers only noticed their British guests had left during the night after they did not answer calls to their rooms or left meals placed outside their rooms untouched.

Swiss media report that others went to stay with friends who owned chalets or apartments.

Many others observed the regulations according to people we have heard from in the resort.

Those that fled faced a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (£8,300) for breaking quarantine regulations.

The Swiss authorities introduced a 10-day quarantine period on December 21st after the mutated virus was detected in the UK,  Quarantine chaos for British skiers in Switzerland.

They were ordered to self-isolate for 10-days from their date of arrival.

All flights were suspended but they have now been reintroduced for nationals to return home, UK residents in quarantine in Switzerland allowed to leave.

A return flight to the UK is only available for those who had completed 10-days of quarantine.

There were 92 flights from the UK to Geneva from December 14th – 20th with an estimated 10,000 people on board.

Most were Swiss nationals returning home for Xmas, but many would have been skiers.

So far three cases of the new virus have been found in Switzerland.

Two of them are British nationals.

They are in the German-speaking part of the country.

Verbier is in the French-speaking part.

The actions of the authorities, and some of those who broke quarantine, has had a mixed reaction.

Some say it would have been better to test people and have described the quarantine as “inhumane”.

Verbier has a number of testing centres in the resort.

The spokesman for Bagnes, an area of the Valais canton containing Verbier, voiced sympathy for the UK skiers suddenly thrust into quarantine.

“We understand their anger,” Jean-Marc Sandoz told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

“Suddenly families with small children were locked into 20 square meters and that’s intolerable.”

The new strain of the virus is 70% more transmissible and people in the resort who speak English are being criticised by some locals.

Many live there year-round and are not part of the Xmas influx.

“Someone told me to “Go Home” the other day. This is reminiscent of ignorant racism throughout history, and frightening that it should occur in 2020,” said one Verbier regular on social media.

Unlike many other ski countries in Europe the Swiss have allowed their resorts to open with no overall international quarantine regulations in place.

Verbier is hugely popular with the British and many apartments and chalets in the resort are owned by the British.

20% of the visitors to Verbier are British.

For others keen to ski or snowboard over Xmas Switzerland was the only option.

However some comments on social media point to the fact that travelling anywhere in a pandemic is risky and people should accept the consequences of their actions.

Other criticise Switzerland for even allowing its resorts to open.

Austria has opened its ski resorts but has quarantine measures in place at the border.

All resort facilities such as hotels and accommodation are closed so the resorts are for locals only.

After an initial PR disaster when images of long lift queues at the base station in Le Chable went viral Verbier has handled the restrictions in resort well.

Huge queues for Verbier lift

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland. Image © PlanetSKI

“It has become noticeable busier his week, but they are managing to do a great job to keep social distancing in the lift queues,” said one PlanetSKI reader currently in Verbier.

“Very chilled atmosphere on the mountain and in town especially now restaurants and bars are shut.

“The skiing is great as it has snowed a fair bit in the last few days.”

The person, who prefers to remain anonymous, said “I know of two Brits that escaped in the dead of night”.

Only 10 people out of the 420 are now required to be in isolation as their 10-days has passed.

“It’s obviously a problem. There was an order to quarantine that has not been respected,” said the Swiss health minister, Alain Berset.

He said he didn’t know the current location of the tourists that fled but suspected that they had gone home.

“One shouldn’t underestimate what an impossible situation it was,” he said.

“We had to decide within hours what to do … That things don’t work perfectly in such a situation, that problems surface is a reality we have to live with.”

The development also caused many Swiss nationals to cancel their holiday to Verbier as they feared it would become a Covid-19 hotspot with the arrival of the British.

It is normally one of the busiest weeks of the season – hotels in the Verbier report 30% occupancy levels.

The resort has strict and enforced Covid-19 protocols out on the slopes.

The new coronavirus quarantine experience had made it “the worst week our community has ever experienced” according to Jean-Marc Sandoz, the spokesman for Bagnes, an area of the Valais canton containing Verbier.

Similar departures took place in other ski resorts in Switzerland.

There has swift and pretty unanimous reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page. Feel free to add your views.

Sar Ah: Let’s hope they are tracked down and heavily fined and punished. And some wonder why the brits get a crappy reputation in many resorts

Andrea H. Stanley: This is why all resorts won’t open this year. The majority suffer due to the selfish actions of the minority. I’m desperate to ski. I’m desperate to see the mountains. Instead I’m pretending I’m pregnant and according to my calories over the last few months I’m starting to resemble it too!

Vipul Patel: Let’s hope the rule breakers are tracked down fined and receive lifetime bans from Switzerland.
Steve Prince: I am one who normally abides by all rules. However, I do have sympathy for those who left Verbier having been told to quarantine. Verbier had repeatedly made it known they were open for business despite Switzerland having one of the highest Covid-19 rates of infection in Europe and despite all of the surrounding countries closing their skiing. So to then make a decision to suddenly restrict British skiers was unfair when they could have taken steps to have them all tested. To expect people to quarantine in an apartment or hotel room especially with children over Xmas is too much. I presume those people must have driven to Verbier and so what harm is there in them getting in their cars and returning to the UK and then self isolating at home as surely they are much less likely to pass on the virus to anyone in Switzerland if they leave?
Claire Louise: When you travel to another county you obey their rules, even if they were last minute ! ! The arrogance and selfishness is astounding !
Nick Richardson: I would never have gone in the first place. With the dramatic growth of the virus, it is madness to believe you can travel rule free to ski centres this winter.
Glenda Jones: Well I suppose they are contactable since the hotels/apartments/car rental etc. will, for the most part, have their names and addresses – they have left a paper trail – so not so smart. I hope the powers that be throw the book at them and fine them the maximum possible! No point going to French ski resorts – they are closed and don’t want the Brits anyway. I just don’t understand what these idiots are thinking – people are asked to quarantine for a reason and whatever the circumstances when you are a guest in another country you follow their rules. Switzerland, was in my opinion wrong to open their ski resorts up to other countries but as soon as they saw there was a problem, they tried to deal with it – shame our fellow Brits couldn’t do the same thing! 🤬

Peter Lewis: Can’t believe the selfishness of some people – travel from one country with a new, highly-infectious strain of the virus to another country, then break quarantine that new, host country – perhaps spreading virus as they go. Have they agreed to compensate the accommodation providers who will have lost bookings?

Scott Green: Snowboarders wouldn’t of done that , bloody skiers

Lorna Hunt: The irresponsibility, arrogance & stupidity of those travelling at the moment is breathtaking. It’ll be my first winter in 21 years not to ski, yet I accept it to ensure I don’t risk mine or others health. Then to break quarantine & travel home. I’ve long suspected a small clique of winter sports enthusiasts to be selfish & elitist & this just reinforces this opinion. 😡
Robin Tyler: A back dated quarantine is a bit unreasonable and it could be expensive for nothing but on the other hand shouldn’t t one abide by the countries rules? Perhaps it’s something that people might do in their own country but to do it else where is questionable as it might have consequences. It most certainly reflects badly on British people with quite a few seeming it hard to to follow rules and consider others.
Anita Smit: The selfishness of their actions are beyond my understanding… To then turn up in French resorts…, making it even worse… And then they still have to quarantine when coming back to the UK. And what’s worse, they Swiss made an effort to organise departures… And what not… Unbelievable… Besides the fact they shouldn’t have travelled in the first place…,😤😤
Nick Richardson: I would never have gone in the first place. With the dramatic growth of the virus, it is madness to believe you can travel rule free to ski centres this winter.
David Own: One of these selfish pricks was Andy Wigmore , Leave EU leader…..
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