Swiss Ski Resorts to Stay Open
15th January 2021
Last modified on January 18th, 2021
Tighter new restrictions come into force next week including the closing of non-essential shops but ski lifts continue to turn. Covid-19 cases in Switzerland are still high, but stabilising.
The Federal government said last month that if non-essential shops closed then it would be hard to justify ski resorts remaining open.
It has changed its position and as tougher measures come into force on Monday, including the closure of non-essential shops – ski resorts will continue to remain open.
The Health Minister, Alain Berset, has defended the decision to allow skiing to continue.
“Strict measures are still required, but so far experience has shown that it works. It cannot be compared to the situation in shops.
“You ski in nature,” he said.
The new measures, that are to be introduced on Monday 18th January, also include an obligation to work from home and further restrictions on gatherings in public and private.
A maximum of five people can now meet in private and in public.
Previously, gatherings in public spaces were capped at 15 while 10 people could meet in private.
There were some early problems in ski resorts with large queues forming in Verbier, Zermatt and others.
These problems have been overcome and there are strict queuing systems in Swiss resorts with social distancing observed and enforced.
“The number of infections is stagnating at a very high level and the risk of a rapid upsurge is real with the new, much more contagious variants of the virus,” the Swiss government said in a statement.
Switzerland currently has 262 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
It is 203 in Italy, 189 in France and 166 in Austria.
Ski resorts remain closed in Italy and France, with skiing for locals-only in Austria.
The government said given the “tense epidemiological situation”, it had decided to take new measures that went beyond simply carrying on the with the current restrictions.
Schools are to remain open, though individual cantons have the powers to close their own schools.
Individual cantons also have the power to close ski resorts.
There has been a decrease in deaths and the numbers of people going into hospital across parts of the country as the current restrictions bite.
The Swiss health ministry’s crisis management chief, Patrick Mathys, has voiced concern about the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus detected in the UK.
The new measures are in place until the end of February and measures are constantly under review.
People from the UK are generally unable to travel to Switzerland, but there are exceptions.
A group of British skiers was recently turned back at St Pancras station in London by French border guards as they tried to board a Eurostar train on their way to Switzerland.
We understand Gap Year ski courses are also taking place in the Swiss Alps with UK citizens attending.
Britons with an exemption to enter Switzerland need to quarantine for 10-days.
They are required to contact the cantonal health authorities within two days of arrival.
People with a negative test are still be required to quarantine for ten days.
They are allowed to leave quarantine after ten days if they do not have symptoms.
Anyone who fails to quarantine for a ten-day period will be subject of a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs (£8,259).
The decision to keep ski resorts open, will please some while others will question if they should be able to – given the ever present pandemic that shows no signs of being brought under control let alone defeated.
The vaccination programme has started in Switzerland with more than 60,000 people receiving it so far.
The plan is to vaccinate six million people against coronavirus by summer.
Switzerland has a population of 8.6m and has seen more than 8,000 people die from Covid-19.
Travelling to Switzerland from the UK
Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions “you must stay at home” it says on Gov.UK
” You must not leave home or travel, including internationally, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.”
It warns against all but essential travel.