Ski Resorts in France Ordered to Keep Lifts Shut
7th January 2021
Last modified on May 13th, 2021
They were supposed to open on Thursday 7th January but the authorities in Paris have said they must stay closed. It is a bitter blow for the resorts, many of whom had prepared their slopes. The government said it is necessary to defeat Covid-19.
It is no great surprise, and many had been expecting it.
The resorts had hoped to open their lifts, but it now looks like mid-February at the earliest.
“The time has not come to return to normal,” said the Prime Minister, Jean Castex.
Not that it matters to UK-based skiers as the border with France remains closed to the vast majority.
The closure will remain in place until further notice, the PM said to prevent the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus which is more infectious.
It has been dubbed the ‘Variant Anglais’ by some in France.
France closed its border with Britain on December 20th.
At present only certain groups of people are allowed into France from the UK and they must present a negative Covid-19 test at the border:
- French or European citizens.
- Those who live in France or another EU country.
- Essential workers.
Second-home owners, tourists, people going skiing/snowboarding and those visiting family are barred.
It is partly Covid-19, and partly Brexit.
Travellers from all non-EU countries – and that now includes the UK after Brexit – are not be able to visit the EU and Schengen countries except for a certain number of essential reasons.
In France ski resorts will have to wait to open their lifts until at least early February.
Cinemas, theatres and other cultural sectors face a similar date.
Bars and restaurants would not be able to reopen until mid February at the earliest, the Prime Minister said.
“The government is well aware of that the sector needs clarity and we are committed to providing this for the rest of the season as quickly as possible,” said The Secretary of State for tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the AFP news agency.
The closure over Xmas and New Year led to an 80% drop in the economic activity of ski resorts compared to the previous year.
Some resorts are described as ‘ghost towns’ with barely a soul around.
The target for daily cases for Covid-19 for the French government is 5,000 but cases in France remain at a weekly average of around 15,000.
On Wednesday France saw 25,379 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 20,489 the preceding day.
Some of the regions in the Alps are amoung the worst affected areas.
Here at PlanetSKI we have had swift reaction from the resorts.
“We are of course disappointed not to be able to open the ski lifts for the time being, but we are ready for when we are given the green light,” said the Director of Tourism at Les Menuires, Marlene Giacometti, to PlanetSKI.
“We understand and we accept the priority given to health. We continue to invest and to innovate in order to welcome our customers in the best way.”
“We have had (and we still have) activities running in the resort for the last two weeks such as the slopes for beginners, cross country and ski touring routes, nordic walk, mountain safety workshops, dog sledging, yoga… and although we have not been as busy as we should have been at this time of year, we have had guests enjoying the resort.”
Many UK chalet operators in France have already axed their product for the whole of this season.
We raised the question of the lifts being able to open last week.
The resorts have been allowed to open their slopes and hotels over the Xmas/New Year period and some claim limited success:
- Morzine adapts to survive with its ski lifts shut
- Ski touring, cross country and snowshoeing allowed in France
- PlanetSKI heads uphill in the French Alps
Last week a French government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, said that the opening of lifts was “very unlikely” to happen due to the still-high levels of Covid-19 in the country.
Already the reopening of cafés, bars and restaurants in France, originally scheduled for January 20th, is not expected to happen according French media.
French media says that the reopening “definitely won’t be on January 20th” after several ministers including Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the reopening could not be guaranteed.
The reopening on museums, theatres, cinemas and cultural spaces was also supposed to happen on January 7th, but the government has said that the current health circumstances have seen them postpone the date.
“It will not be possible to reopen cultural establishments on January 7th because the virus is still circulating very rapidly in our country,” said government spokesperson Gabriel Attal earlier.
There has been reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:
Tracey Hill – Not surprised but sad for all those reliant on the income.
Angie Simson – Not surprising. With skiing comes people getting injured and needing medical care. I’m guessing french hospitals really don’t need the extra hassle atm. Thousands of extra people landing in resorts filling shops and spaces isn’t a great idea either.
Nick Sharpin – can you imagine how many tens of thousands of people would travel to the Alps on Saturday if they had opened today? The roads would be an absolute nightmare, hundreds of people arriving at their accommodation, going to get food, ski hire, etc. It’s not all about the skiing aspect of things there’s a much bigger picture. Yes it’s an outdoor pursuit but there are so many other aspects to consider.
Julie Cross – The snow will be gone by the time we’re allowed. We’ll go in the summer but for skiing of course.
Ryan TG Lewis – So disproportionate.
Justin Maddock – Not a surprise really. They ain’t opening anytime soon when you look at French infection rate. They’ve also found the new strain in haute savoie
Italy was also due to open its ski resorts on January 7th but the authorities have confirmed that will not be happening.
For Italy the date of 18th January is being mooted as the next possible date.
Resorts in Slovakia have closed as the cases of coronavirus continue to grow.
Andorra has managed to open some ski areas, but it is for locals only.
Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted on the situation in France and across all the ski areas in Europe and North America.