Italy Extends Regional Travel Ban with Significant Impact on Ski Areas as they Prepare to Open
11th February 2021
Last modified on February 13th, 2021
Resorts in Lombardy, the Aosta Valley & Veneto have said they are opening next week under strict conditions. Trentino had hoped to open but has just been told it can’t. Resorts in the Milky Way in Piedmont are expected to open next weekend. The extent of openings hinged on regional travel restrictions that are now extended.UPDATED
The Italian government announced on Saturday that it is to extend the existing ban on non-essential travel between regions for a further ten days.
The current rules were due to expire on Monday.
The ban applies to all non-essential travel between all regions, regardless of which zone they are in under Italy’s tiered system of coronavirus restrictions.
The regional travel ban does not apply to travel for work, health or emergency reasons.
People are also allowed to visit second homes so that will give some hope for the ski areas set to open next week.
Many have said the extent of their openings next week depends on how many people will be allowed to travel.
They are now meeting to decide what to do and here at PlanetSKI we will let you know as soon as we hear.
“From 16-25 February any movement between different regions or autonomous provinces is prohibited throughout the country, except for proven work needs, situations of necessity or for health reasons,” the updated decree law states.
Travel within Italy for skiing remains prohibited.
Last week the Technical Scientific Committee, CTS, of Italy said resorts in so-called ‘Yellow Zones’ could open.
Many of the main ski resorts are in in the yellow zones – Lombardy (Livigno, Bormio), Piedmont (Sestrierre, Sauze d’Oulx) , Valle d’Aosta (Cervinia, Courmayeur) and Veneto (Cortina, Arabba).
Trentino (Madonna di Campiglio,Canazei), was in the yellow zone this week and had hoped to open, but on Friday it was informed it was set to move up to the orange zone.
It has had to cancel its opening plans.
“Planning seems impossible in times like these,” the area said as it heard the news on Friday.
“Unfortunately, we have just received the unexpected news that from Monday, 15 February, Trentino will be classified as an orange zone and will follow new rules to ensure everyone’s safety.
“So unfortunately, the ski areas cannot open as we all had hoped. We are very sorry for all those who has started to get ready for the planned opening.
“We definitely hope that the ski areas in Veneto will be able to open! We’ll keep you posted! Stay tuned!”
The resorts in the Sud Tirol in the Dolomites (Alta Badia, Val Gardena) are also unable to open as they are in ‘Orange Zones’ with a higher number of cases of coronavirus and there are growing concerns about the spread of variant viruses.
Some had argued they should be allowed to re-open with a 50% reduction in people allowed on lifts plus mandatory use of FFP2 masks, but this proposal was rejected by the CTS.
Restrictions remain in force in the Sud Tirol until February 28th, and may be extended.
We reported on the announcement from the CTS at the time:
So, what is the current situation in the ski regions of Italy?
Ski resorts in Lombardy, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe last February, are set to open next Monday, February 15th, but under strict conditions.
In Lombardy, the daily number of skiers will be limited to no more than 30% of the hourly capacity of the ski lifts.
And it seems the resort of Livigno has a bit of snow too.
The go ahead “is a first important recognition for the mountain world,” said the Lombardy Tourism Councillor, Lara Magoni.
She said it is a ” breath of fresh air for a sector that is suffering an unprecedented crisis. I am convinced that the mountains must be central in the political debate for the relaunch of our country.”
A spokesman for the resort tells PlanetSKI that “site enquiries and bookings are coming in”, but he adds “though not from the UK of course”.
It’s looking good at the ski resorts elsewhere in Lombardy.
Some resorts in the Brenta Dolomites in Trentino were planning to open – they were aiming for 17th February.
Perhaps the most well-known is Madonna di Campiglio and the resort made this statement before the announcement of the move up to orange zone status.
“Brenta’s SkiArea Campiglio Dolomiti is ready to go. From Wednesday 17 February 2021 the lifts of Folgarida Marilleva, Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo will be open with limited access,” said the resort of Madonna di Campiglio.
There is plenty of snow, and there were plenty of preparations to complete but these are now on hold.
The area had strict rules to be rolled out but they will now be on hold until the area moves back down to yellow.
This is what they were planning to do:
All lift passes must be bought online and then the resort authorities have introduced ‘virtual queuing’.
Skiers need to download the App and then the resort says “It will be possible to virtually queue from your own home, from your hotel, from your car or from the parking lot, without having to physically crowd around ticket offices and boarding areas.”
It will also have social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
“Please note that some fundamental rules must be respected by users: service cannot be accessed if you have a fever it is mandatory to wear a mask in the queue, on all lifts and in the shelters a distance of 1m from other people must be kept at all times,” said the ski area.
“The responsibility of each is the essential element to ensure the safety of all.”
The resort authorities in Italy will be trying to ensure there is no repeat of scenes when some resorts opened in other parts of Italy back in November.
And then were ordered to close.
The decision on whether to open or not is down to each regional authority, and many are still considering the situation.
The resorts in the Veneto area of the Dolomites are also preparing to open on Wednesday 17th.
They include Cortina and Arabba.
Cortina is currently hosting the 2021 Alpine Skiing World Championships and we have asked if the resort will open some slopes.
Our message has been acknowledged by the resort, but we have not heard back about specific details.
If the slopes do open it is likely people will not be able to congregate to watch and restrictions will be in place.
The regional Government in the Vallee d’Aosta has announced the opening of the some ski resorts on Thursday 18th February.
There will be a limit of 30,000 people per day.
The maximum limit is 42,000 people set by the safety protocols in the region.
Online booking will be compulsory also for those who have a seasonal pass.
“The aim is to open in complete safety even if we don’t know yet which resorts will open, probably only the biggest,” the area said in a statement to PlanetSKI on Friday 12th.
“Much will depend also on the new rules concerning the mobility among the regions.”
“With this first application of the rules we want to start safely and well, so as not to slip,” said the vice president of the Region and councilor with responsibility for skiing, Luigi Bertschy.
“Only some districts will be open and not all of them – he has still anticipated – because in some cases there would be no conditions for economic or operational sustainability”.
He added that “the sword of Damocles of mobility between regions remains, a problem that in some places can be overcome thanks to the fact that second homes can guarantee a small profitability for our companies and also a revival of the image of skiing”.
The main resorts in the Milky Way in Piedmont are sounding hopeful that some lifts will open on 20th February.
“We are told by Vialattea, who run the ski lifts, that there will be some lifts open from the 20th of February in Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere and Sansicario,” said the resort of Sauze d’Oulx on social media.
The resort of Bardonecchia in the Milky Way has already started preparing some slopes:
However it is weighing up the costs against the number of allowed visitors due to regional travel restrictions.
“We will do our best to ensure the best possible usability of the skiable area, but it must be emphasized that this is a further and significant commitment in terms of resources and it is therefore important that the planned opening period is congruous with the costs incurred by the society,” said the resort.
“It must also be considered that if the ban on travel between regions were to remain, tourist flows would be extremely low.
“Our priority is the safety of users, but we are awaiting further clarifications on the quota arrangements and the maximum number of ski passes that we can sell.
“In the meantime, as indicated by the protocols, we have equipped ourselves with new automatic pay stations and online sales systems, in order to monitor the number of people on the track and avoid crowds.
“Coordination with the police will be essential.”
The skiing and snowboarding will be for locals only as the regional travel ban is extended across Italy.
Some health officials are warning against the lifting of restrictions.
“Being in a yellow zone does not mean the danger has passed,” said the Health Minister, Roberto Speranza.
“We still need the utmost caution if we do not want to go back on the progress made in recent weeks”.
In the past 24-hours, nearly 13,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy and 336 people have died.
The latest figures brought total infection numbers in Italy to almost 2.67 million with the overall death toll at 92,338.
Italy has a current rate of 139 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In the other alpine nations it is France (208), Switzerland (122) and Austria (106).
The resorts that do open in Italy will be under the general yellow zone restrictions.
In yellow zones, bars and restaurants can stay open until 6pm, including on Sundays.
Takeaway service is allowed until 10pm for restaurants and until 6pm for bars, while there are no time limits for home delivery.
Museums can open, but only on weekdays.
The night curfew remains in place from 10pm-5am across the whole country.
If people need to go out during those hours, they need to carry a completed self-certification form.
A ban on non-essential travel between regions remains in place, regardless of zone colour.
Cinemas, theatres, betting halls, game rooms, discos, ballrooms, concert halls, gyms, swimming pools, theme parks, spas and wellness centres remain closed.
Shops are open, but malls are closed on weekends.
Here on PlanetSKI we will let you know about the other ski areas as soon as announcements are made, but we expect other ski resorts to open.
Representatives from the Aosta Valley and Veneto welcomed the decision of the Technical Scientific Committee last week.
The slopes though remain out of reach for those of us in the UK as it is against the law to go on holiday.
“Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home,” states the UK government.
“You must not travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.”
There are strict requirements to enter Italy and quarantine is required on return to the UK.
There are also border restrictions from other countries in the EU and Schengen area.