Further Reaction from Italian Ski Resorts As They Remain Closed
14th February 2021
Last modified on May 5th, 2021
Some were due to open on Monday and others later this week. Many resorts had spent huge amounts of time, money and effort after being told they could open. One resort defied the ban & opened anyway, there have been demonstrations in others.UPDATED
Some resorts were due to open on Monday morning, many others later this week.
Then on Sunday the health minister, Roberto Speranza, signed a measure prolonging the ban on recreational skiing at resorts in Italy until March 5th.
Resorts were informed at 7pm.
It follows concerns over the spread of variant viruses in recent days.
New data shows that the British variant of the coronavirus now represents 17.8% of new infections in Italy.
“Concern about the spread of this and other variants of SARS-CoV-2 has led to similar measures being taken in France and Germany,” said the health ministry in a statement.
The ski resort of Piana di Vigezzo in Piedmont defied the ban and started its lifts at 8am on Monday morning.
More than 100 skiers and snowboarders turned out.
“On Friday we were reassured by the regional authorities and had prepared everything for a safe reopening. We now we decided to go our own way.” said one of the co-owners, Luca Mantovani, to Italian media.
It is now closed claiming it has made its point.
“We don’t want to go against the law, but it seemed necessary to give a strong signal, and we gave it,” said the CEO of the resort.
There were protests in other resorts on Monday.
“The timing of this move is completely absurd. We worked for two weeks, day and night, to guarantee a safe re-opening in line with the regulations,” Michele Bertolini, head of the Ponte di Legno Alpine ski resort, told Reuters TV.
“We had bookings, staff, everything ready to restart. Guests who were already here,” said Alessandro Guerini, head of the local hoteliers’ association in Ponte di Legno.
The resort of Livigno in Lombardy was one of the resorts due to open on Monday.
“It is with regret that we communicate, following the ordinance signed by Italian Minister Speranza this evening, 14th February 2021 at 19:00, the closure of the ski lifts until 5th March 2021,” said Livigno on Sunday evening.
“We are disappointed. In these days we worked tirelessly to prepare slopes, lifts, hotels, shops, restaurants.
“We think that the mountain deserves more respect.”
Lombardy, along with other ski resort areas had been making extensive preparations in recent days and it is a bitter blow for the resorts and those locals hoping to go skiing and snowboarding.
A spokesman for Livigno told PlanetSKI last week that “site enquiries and bookings are coming in”.
In Livigno people can still access some of the slopes by vehicle as there is a road open to one area.
The rules in Italy do not prohibit skiing, but only the use of the lifts.
“We worked for weeks to be able to reopen. There are no words to explain what we feel except so much sadness,” said a statement from Livigno.
“We are disappointed. In these days we worked tirelessly to prepare slopes, lifts, hotels, shops, restaurants. We think that the mountain deserves more respect,” the resort added.
The President of Lombady, Attilio Fontana, said the abrupt decision was a “further serious blow to a sector that was painfully restarting”.
The resort of Bormio in Lombardy was also planning to open on Monday.
“It’s official. Skiing will have to be closed until March 5th,” Bormio said on Sunday.
“We are speechless because of the timing with which this communication came.
“A closure communicated at 7pm on the eve of the opening, planned for weeks, after months of work on protocols, hiring and preparation, is sincerely inconceivable,” commented the president of the Aosta Valley, Erik Lavévaz.
“While understanding the health reasons, the procedure is not genuinely explainable,” he added.
Other resorts and ski areas have gone further.
“Only a few days ago we were confirmed that the ban on opening slopes and skiing areas to tourists was unlocked. We were watching February 15th and with joy and hope . We told tourists that we were ready to reopen the ski slopes in Sestriere and Vialattea on February 20th,” said the mayor of Sestriere, Gianni Poncet.
“Everything has been organized to allow reopening safely following the guidelines set by the Conference of the Regions and the Scientific Technical Committee.
“This new government ban came less than 24 hours from the resumption of Alpine skiing nationally.
“It’s a clear signal of disinterest and mistreatment of the mountain, of the people and families who live there, work there, and of the entire chain of the winter tourist system that always has Alpine skiing as its backbone.
“The winter mountain has been stopped since March 2020. Soon it will be a year of paralysis of the main source of economy and livelihood for tens of thousands of families.
“It’s a shame. We have never underestimated the health emergency, we have always activated to curb the epidemic: thanks to the collaboration of all our citizenship we have always kept prevention standards high.
“Meanwhile we see in big cities full shopping malls, gatherings in streets and squares.
“And in front of all this, we have to hear that going skiing is dangerous?
“One thing is certain at this point, we should not only talk about help from the government but also about a fair demand for damages caused by an unholy and utter disregard for those who live and work in the mountains.”
The Health Ministry said it would begin compensating ski lift operators as soon as possible.
Many other resorts were planning to open this week as they are in so-called ‘Yellow Zones’ where it was earlier ruled the ski resorts could open.
We reported on the plans last week on PlanetSKI:
As well as those in Lombardy, the resorts in Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto were hoping to open.
Trentino was in the yellow zone last week and had hoped to open, but on Friday it was informed it was set to move up to the orange zone.
“Planning seems impossible in times like these,” the area said as it heard its news on Friday.
“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.”
Many resorts have worked hard to prepare the slopes.
Sauze d’Oulx has been making snow in preparation.
“We are sad to say that the Italian Minister for Health signed a provision that prohibits amateur skiing activities until 5 March 2021,” said the resort on Sunday.
The piste bashers have been out elsewhere preparing the slopes.
Here on PlanetSKI we will be updating this article with further reaction from Italy so do check back.
Ski resorts remain open in Switzerland.
In Austria the slopes are open to locals only.
Ski lifts in France remain closed until at least the end of February.
In Eastern Europe the ski resorts in Poland are opening.
The country is allowing its resorts to open with coronavirus restriction in place.
Hotels, cinemas and theatres are also allowed to start up again at 50% capacity.
Authorities in Poland allowed museums and shopping centres to open on 1st February.
The relaxations in ski resorts will be assessed over the next two weeks.
Earlier this month some ski resorts of the Tatra mountains in Poland reopened as part of an anti-lockdown protest.
Poland has 95 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In the Czech Republic some ski resorts say they will open this week as the country’s Emergency Decree expires.
The government had wanted to extend the Decree, but it was defeated in parliament.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of coronavirus in Europe – 484 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
It also has one of the highest death rates of anywhere in the world with 16,976 deaths from a population of 10.7m.