Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
1st February 2021
Last modified on May 13th, 2021
The team at PlanetSKI is reporting all the news & developments as it affects the snowsports world in our ever-popular rolling blog. If you want to see its impact and the response of skiers & snowboarders then read on…
Sunday 7th February
The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association Thanks People for Following Lockdown Rules
There has been a drop in the number of call outs in recent weeks.
The association, which represents 12 rescue teams in the Lake District, said there were 19 call outs in the first fortnight of 2021 compared with seven in the same period in 2020.
But in the three weeks since there have been just seven, compared with 18 in the same time-frame last year.
In a letter to walkers and fell enthusiasts, the association spokesman says: “Your efforts and sacrifices are really appreciated. Please continue to stick to the rules.”
According to the BBC the message came on the same weekend one of the volunteers suffered “significant injuries” after falling 150m during a mission.
The rescuer was flown to hospital on Saturday morning and is in a serious condition, the association said.
Italy’s Ski Resorts Set to Re-Open
From February 15th resorts in the so-called ‘Yellow Zones’ are expected to be able to open.
All the county’s main ski areas are in a yellow zone except for those in the Sud Tirol.
It is a huge relief for skiers & snowboarders, plus the resorts themselves.
The government’s Technical Scientific Committee, CTS, has reached the decision and although it has not been formally announced by the government it is expected to go ahead.
It remains unclear if a travel ban between regions and localities will be lifted, so skiing and snowboarding may just be for locals only.
The rate of infection in Italy has been steadily falling with more space in hospitals.
It has 136 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In comparison to the other alpine nations it is below France (214), but above Switzerland (126) and Austria (107).
The ski provinces of Lombardy, Piedmont, Trento, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto are all yellow zones.
Sud Tirol/Bolzano is the higher Orange zone and its ski resorts will not be allowed to open.
Some had argued they should be allowed to re-open with a 50% reduction in people allowed on lifts. plus manadatory use of FFP2 masks, but this proposal was were rejected by the CTS.
Saturday 6th February
Mass Testing Starts in 3 Swiss Ski Resorts
Villars, Les Diablerets and Leysin in the Vaud canton are offering free testing to anyone over 12-years old including non-residents. It comes as the February holidays approach.
The test began in Villars and in the first 400 tests four people were positive for coronavirus.
The authorities say one of the aims is to “save the end of the ski season”.
Ski resorts have been targeted because “they are going to see a lot of mixing of people in the next few weeks”, said the leader of the Vaud government, Nuria Gorrite.
“We want to avoid the virus being transported from one place to another. What the resorts need least is to become national clusters.”
It is a preventive approach which aims to reassure tourists and locals.
Read the full story here:
UK says no plans for Vaccine Passports as Sweden Develops a Digital Vaccine Certificate
There are no current plans to bring in vaccine passports for people who have had both jabs said the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock.
He also reiterated that going on holiday is currently “illegal” during this latest lockdown.
“Of course, we’re constantly working with other countries and we keep these sorts of things under review, but for now there are still 31,670 people in hospital with Covid”.
Sweden meanwhile is developing a digital vaccine certificate to enable people to show they have been inoculated.
The country’s health minister, Lena Hallengren, said the certificate could be used as a passport to “travel abroad on holiday or meet a loved one”.
The government is hoping to get the certificates ready by June.
Denmark has announced a similar certificate.
The government there announced it would have an online registry that would be used to check someone’s vaccination status.
This is a temporary measure until a long-term solution is established.
The World Health Organisation has considered the idea of digital certificates in the past but said in January that it opposed them being used as a requirement for travel.
Tirol May Go Into Quarantine as Variant Virus Cases Rise
The Austrian province has seen worrying increases in the mutations and concerns are mounting.
The authorities are studying the data and will make a decision on Sunday.
Ski resorts and alpine areas are watching closely.
The Federal government has said there is an “acute and serious” situation regarding the South African variant in the western part of the Tirol.
There have been 75 cases, plus 21 of the UK variant.
More checks are being carried out.
The authorities are considering putting the region under quarantine which would likely mean the ski resorts would have to close.
They are currently open but for locals only.
See here for the full story:
Friday 5th February
Tirol in Austria Sees Increase in Variant Viruses
The Federal government has said there is an “acute and serious” situation regarding South African variant in the western part of the province.
There have been 75 cases, plus 21 on the UK variant.
The authorities are considering putting the region under quarantine which would like mean the ski resorts would have to close.
A decision is expected at the weekend.
The Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, said he had spoken to Tirol’s regional government and was satisfied that they were aware that “this is an acute situation, a serious situation”.
Mass testing in certain districts and sequencing of test samples has been stepped up.
The virologist, Dorothee von Laer, who has advised the government on the crisis, said her recommendation would be for the province to be sealed off for a month.
The opposition Social Democrats have also demanded tougher action in the Tirol.
The lockdown in Austria is being partially relaxed on Monday, with schools, shops and museums due to re-open.
Ski Province in Italy Goes Into Hard Lockdown
The South Tyrol province in Northern Italy will go into a “hard lockdown” for three weeks from Monday because of a surge in cases.
Shops will shut, schools will go online and there will be a ban on moving between towns.
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Rises to Challenges of Covid-19
That’s the message from the Beijing 2022 President, Cai Qi.
He said organisers are working to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue to advance toward our ultimate goal of staging the Games as scheduled,” Qi said.
“We will work together with all stakeholders at home and abroad to overcome difficulties and challenges.
“We will spare no effort to ensure the preparation and delivery of a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Games.
“We will do all we can to contribute to the defeat of COVID-19 worldwide, the growth of the Olympic Movement, and the building of a global community of shared future.”
The remarks were made as Beijing marked 1 year until the Games begin.
The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, echoes the view.
“Having seen how China is overcoming the coronavirus crisis, we are very confident that our Chinese hosts will ensure safe and secure Olympic Games in full cooperation with the IOC,” said Thomas Bach.
“Every time that I have visited China, I am so impressed by the enthusiasm and support for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
“This is why, we can say already now with great confidence: China is ready.”
Ski Resorts Breathe Sigh of Relief as No New Lockdown in France but Situation Remains ‘Fragile’
It will be welcomed by ski resorts as the February holiday period approaches.
The ski lifts will still not be allowed to turn, but some travel is allowed and accommodations can remain open.
It is though scant compensation for a season wrecked by Covid-19.
The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has said there will not be another national lockdown, but he said the situation remains fragile.
“We must stick with the current restrictions we already have in place,” said the French Prime Minister on Thursday.
“The situation today does not justify a new national lockdown”.
“We are not where we were in October.”
France currently has a 18:00 curfew in place in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Ski resorts remain open though the ski lifts are unable to turn.
See here for our full report:
Thursday 4th January
International Travel Had Biggest Impact on Covid Death Rates Last Spring
That’s the finding of researchers in Scotland as they looked at the worst affected 37 countries in the world.
They examined factors including border arrivals, population density, the percentage of people living in urban areas, age, and health issues.
The team said early restrictions on international travel could have made a difference in the spread.
The study looked at counties including America, the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Brazil, and focused on the early stages of the pandemic.
“We found that international travel was the strongest predictor of mortality increase,” said one of the authors of the study, Tiberiu Pana.
“Our assessment of available data indicates that very early restrictions on international travel might have made a difference in the spread of the pandemic in western Europe, including the UK.
“These findings are particularly important as the world looks to control future waves and strains of the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent related deaths.”
See here for the full story on the BBC
It is widely accepted the the virus spread rapidly in many ski resorts in the Alps back in February & March and was brought back to many people’s home countries.
Image © PlanetSKI
Today Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said at her daily briefing that overseas travel could be curtailed for months.
It would be part of an effort to help return school pupils to classrooms in Scotland.
She said the Scottish government intends to implement a “much more comprehensive” system of managed quarantine compared with proposals for England.
She described it as “children first” and that “the trade off for us then is going to be not going overseas.”
One Year to Go To Beijing 2022
The countdown is on to the next Winter Olympic Games that start on February 4th 2022.
Activities are happening today to mark the occasion,mainly online & digitally in these Covid-19 times.
We examine how Beijing was awarded the Games and what they may may look like.
Plus how the pandemic has shaped preparations.
The threat of coronavirus has hung over the preparations.
The pandemic had its roots in China more than a year ago but the country appears to be heading back to normal now.
The organisers of the Beijing Games have also been watching Tokyo closely as it prepares for the Summer Games this year – that will continue as Tokyo 2021 takes place
The Beijing organisers are hopeful the Covid-19 situation will be back to some form of normality by this time next year.
“After the outbreak of COVID-19, Beijing 2022 not only prioritised the prevention and control of the pandemic, but also focused on Games preparations. We strive to overcome various difficulties and have made solid progress,” said Beijing 2022 Executive Vice-President, Zhang Jiandong.
Switzerland’s R-Rate Rises
It climbed above 1 for the first time in two months on Wednesday.
The news comes as a surprise as case numbers have been falling in Switzerland.
Patrick Mathys from the Federal Office of Public Health said the reason was a delay in the way the R-Rate is recorded.
“The R value relates to a situation from 10 days ago. The same goes for the reported cases every day,” he said.
“That means for the next few days we should expect a stabilisation or even a slight increase in the number of cases.”
The spread of the virus slowed in January.
On February 1, the seven-day average stood at 1,630.
There were 3,775 new cases over the previous 72 hours, as well as 78 deaths and 161 people were hospitalised according to the Federal Office of Public Health.
A recent survey gave the public’s view on the pandemic
The authorities hope the rise is not a trend and say there are no planned tightening of measures.
Interior Minister, Alain Berset, said that Switzerland is unlikely to ease its anti-Covid restrictions before the end of February amid fears of new strains of the virus.
Wednesday 3rd January
UK Unable to Close its Borders Like Australia
Speaking to the Commons Transport Select Committee, the Transport Secretaty Grat Shapps, said “People say ‘why don’t we just close down and then we’ll be safe?’.
“But, of course, we wouldn’t be safe, because we are an island nation – unlike Australia or something which is an entire continent – and that means that we need to get medicines in, we need to get food in, we need to get our raw materials in, sometimes we have to move people around, scientists and others.
“If we weren’t doing these things then we simply wouldn’t be combating this crisis. In fact, specifically, we wouldn’t have had things like the medicines that we’ve needed or indeed the vaccinations, some of which are manufactured in Europe, only 20 miles away at its closest point.”
He adds: “The idea that the UK could completely batten down its hatches and remain battened down for a year is mistaken.”
UK Ski Operators Claim 2021/2022 Looking Good
That’s according to some UK ski tour operators and agents we have spoken to.
This season is pretty much a total write off, though some hold out hope for the end of season.
Are they correct about next winter?
The sensible ones are looking to the future.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking mixed in with some hope, but here at PlanetSKI we hearing some murmerings of optimism.
Hotelplan UK, that runs Inghams, Ski Total, Esprit Ski & Flexiski, says the brands are “already over 45% sold for next winter, well ahead of the same period last year, so people should think about their plans for the next winter now to avoid disappointment.”
“We’re currently over 100% bookings over the same time last year,” said the CEO of SNO, Richard Sinclair this week.
“More than half of this increase is from cancelled customers this winter preferring to defer deposits and secure their spot next winter rather than refund, but we are also taking more bookings for next season than we ever have before at this stage in the year.”
See here for our full story:
Austria to Crackdown on Foreigners Staying & Skiing in its Resorts Illegally
It follows a series of raids in St Anton that revealed widespread abuse.
The Interior Minister has now said the government will ‘intensify controls’.
Local Austrians have welcomed the move as some general restrictions in Austria are eased from Monday 8th February.
It seems some foreign skiers and snowboarders are using loopholes in the country’s coronavirus lockdown to travel to ski in the country’s ski resorts.
Ones that are citizens of an EU country simply register as looking for work, and then do no such thing but go skiing instead.
“We will intensify controls” in Alpine ski resorts and at the border the Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told a news conference.
He also announced tougher border measures, including a requirement for cross-border commuters to register with authorities and get tested on a weekly basis.
The ski lifts and slopes in Austria can only be used by local people.
See here for our full report:
Tuesday 2nd February
Scotland Government Decides on Lockdown Extension
Scottish government ministers are meeting to decide on whether to extend or ease restrictions.
It will have an impact on ski resorts that are affected by the travel restrictions.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to make a statement at Holyrood this afternoon.
She is expected to give details about the reopening of schools and nurseries, as well as other steps to combat the spread of the virus.
These include tougher supervised quarantine measures.
Austria Extends Some Lockdown Restrictions but Eases Others
The government, opposition parties, scientific advisers and regional authorities met throughout the day on Monday.
The alpine nation’s lockdown is due to end on February 7th.
Cases of Covid-19 have been steadily coming down in recent weeks in Austria.
The number of people per 100,000 of population infected over a 7-day period is 105.
Higher than its target of 50, but most commentators believe Austria has done well in recent weeks.
The number is 177 in France, 145 in Italy and 142 in Switzerland.
In the UK the figure stands at 301.
In November and December Austria had 5,000 cases per day, now it is 2,000.
Its lockdown measures have had an impact.
Ski resorts remain open but it is mainly just the lifts turning with most other facilities shut.
It appears that hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes in ski resorts, and elsewhere, will have to wait longer before being allowed to reopen.
The lifts will continue turning – pleasing skiers and snowboarders + the resorts.
See here for our full and detailed article:
Monday 1st February
Rescued Climbers on Ben Nevis Fined for Breaking Lockdown
Two men from Glasgow travelled more than 100 miles on Saturday to try to climb Ben Nevis, near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.
The pair got into difficulty and to be rescued members of the local mountain rescue team.
A helicopter from the Inverness Coastguard was also deployed.
They were unharmed and both were fined for breaking Covid-19 restrictions.
People on mainland Scotland can only leave home for an essential purpose.
Exercise is allowed but people can meet one other person for activities such as walking.
Exercise should start and finish at the same place, and it can be up to five miles from the boundary of a person’s local authority area.
Majority of Swiss Want Ski Resorts to Close if Covid-19 Worsens
That’s one of the findings of a recent survey where 55% of those polled wanted ski areas to shut if the epidemiological situation deteriorates.
In Switzerland the rate of infection is currently improving.
In a wide ranging survey many other questions are asked.
The survey was carried out online between 18th and 19th January 2021 and was completed by 15,089 people across all of Switzerland.
It was conducted by Tamedia and reported last week by the Swiss outlet “20 Minutes”.
The margin of error is estimated at 1.3%.
The survey also asked people their opinion on the measures introduced by the authorities to handle the pandemic.
30% believe they go too far, while 38% think they do not go far enough.
30% of respondents said the measures are adequate.
In addition, 53% of the population would like to make PCR tests compulsory for anyone arriving in Switzerland from abroad.
Other preferred measures include massive testing (42%) and border closures (39%).
Closing schools is seen as a solution to the deterioration of the current situation for 35% of Swiss people.
On the other hand, only 26% of Swiss people are in favor of compulsory vaccination for groups at risk.
The poll also looked at whether people who have been vaccinated should have certain advantages over others: 47% of those polled said no.
Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24%) agree that vaccinated citizens should be able to take advantage of relaxed measures, but only in clearly defined areas.
Finally, 14% of Swiss believe that vaccinated people should no longer have to comply with anti-coronavirus restrictions.
Read the full story here as we also look at the current rules and regulations in Switzerland:
Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we have reported its impact.
We have updated daily since the pandemic began.
All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:
January 25th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
January 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
January 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
January 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 28th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 6th : Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 9th: Cornoavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
October 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
October 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
October 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
October 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
September 27th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
September 20th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
September 13th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
September 6th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 9th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports