Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
15th February 2021
Last modified on February 21st, 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… UPDATED
Sunday 21st February
Calls for Tighter Restrictions in Alpes-Maritimes Region of France as Cases Surge
France’s Health Minister, Olivier Véran, said he was requesting stricter measures in the Alpes-Maritime region.
The area contains a number of ski resorts including Isola 2000.
Other less well-know ones include Auron, Valberg and La Colmiane.
The city of Nice is also in the region and the mayor of the city is calling for either a weekend lockdown or a local tightening of the nationwide curfew to combat coronavirus figures that are the worst in France.
The whole of France is already under a daily 12-hour curfew which starts at 18:00 (17:00 GMT).
New weekly cases in the area are triple the national average.
France has so far avoided imposing a third nationwide lockdown to fight the virus as we reported earlier:
Ski lifts in all ski resorts remain closed, but are open for other activities such as cross country, ski touring and snow shoeing.
Some ski resorts report business down to 25% of what it should be.
Significant Long-term Immunity for Ischgl Covid-19 Cases
Nine out of ten residents of Austria’s Ischgl ski resort who contracted coronavirus have retained a long-term immunity a new study has found.
People living in Ischgl still have a high antibody count, almost one year since the outbreak.
The findings come in a study from the Medical University of Innsbruck.
The study was carried out in November 2020 among 900 volunteers from the ski resort between the ages of 18 and 89.
Of the 900 tested, 801 still retained antibodies at least six months after first contracting the virus.
Read more here:
Saturday 20th February
Travel Industry Pleads with PM for Help
The travel industry has urged the prime minister to provide a roadmap to get people travelling again this summer and make plans for next winter.
In an open letter, travel organisations and businesses have asked for more help to safeguard employees’ livelihoods and rebuild the £80bn contribution the sector makes to the UK economy.
“We urge you to provide a route out of the crisis for the travel industry,” it says.
Boris Johnson will set out his plans for easing lockdown rules this on Monday, 22nd February.
Read more here:
Austria Considers Whether Negative Test Required for Bars/Restaurants
A test is required to enter a hairdressers or tattoo parlours in Austria, and now to go skiing in the Tirol after the state has seen outbreaks of the South African variant.
In order to do so people need to have a negative coronavirus test which is less than 48-hours old.
Bars and restaurants in ski resorts, and elsewhere, remain closed but the authorities are looking at ways they can open next month as cases of Covid-19 fall.
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said the country was considering allowing people with a negative coronavirus test to visit outside areas of bars and restaurants again from March.
He said, “relying heavily on the testing system would make more freedom possible”.
A decision is expected shortly after plans and proposals have been examined.
Some believe such a system is necessary to open up other areas such as concerts, spectators to sporting events and cultural activities.
If Austria introduces such a system it will be watched closely by other European nations.
Friday 19th February
South African Variant Found in Poland Threatens Ski Resorts
The first case of the variant was discovered near the city of Suwalki in north-eastern Poland.
10% of Covid-19 cases in Poland are already the UK variant.
“Looking at the results it must be said that the third wave of the pandemic is already in Poland,” said the health minister, Adamhe Niedzielski.
It comes just a week after Poland allowed ski slopes to reopen, as well as hotels, cinemas and theatres reopening at half capacity.
Officials have said restrictions would be reinstated if cases rise significantly.
On Friday, Poland reported 8,777 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 241 virus-related deaths.
The number of new daily cases this week has been the highest in more than a month.
Poland has vaccinated 2.56 million people, equivalent to 6.8% of the population, including 865,884 people who has received both doses, or 2.3% of the population.
See here for our earlier story on the situation in Poland and other eastern European ski nations.
People Urged not to Book Flights Until Travel Situation is Clearer
The message comes from the consumer watchdog, Which?
The organisation says more than two million passengers lost money during Covid.
It claims some people were not refunded after missing flights that continued to operate during the pandemic.
Which? said local coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions at destinations stopped many people from travelling.
But because the flights continued to operate they were not entitled to a refund.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “With non-essential travel currently illegal, airlines must play their part in protecting public health by ensuring no-one is left out of pocket for abiding by the law and not travelling.”
The organisation is advising people to wait until the situation around international travel becomes clearer.
It also urges people to book a package holiday rather than a flight-only booking for stronger passenger protections, and “only with a trusted provider that offers a generous and flexible booking policy.”
Skiing in Eastern Europe in Covid-19 Times
Resorts in Poland have opened with government backing, those in the Czech Republic have also opened but the federal government wanted them to stay closed.
Plus we look at Bulgaria where Covid cases are low and ski resorts open.
Slovakia and Slovenia both have a high number of cases.
See here for our full and detailed report:
Chamonix Reports Sharp Drop in Visitors
In what should be one of the busiest weeks of the season Chamonix says its guest levels are at 30% of what they should be.
Many hotels are closed but people are booking self-catered accommodation or holiday homes.
The lifts are unable to run but ski touring, cross country and snowshoeing are allowed.
Other activities have seen a boom.
“With no provisional date for the opening of the ski lifts, our visitors are discovering or rediscovering the mountains at a slower pace and seeking simpler pleasures,” said Claire Burnet from the tourist office.
“That precious ingredient – time – appears to enhance the flavour of family fun and the slopes have never seen so many ephemerous snowmen and exciting toboggan runs.”
Ski instructors are still able to give lessons to beginners on the nursery slopes, and many are now leading snow-shoeing outings.
Mountain guides offer a multitude of ski touring excursions and winter climbs subject to levels of fitness and experience.
Cross-country skiing has never been so popular, but other activities such as Fat Bike and Snooc tours are taking place.
What is a Snooc we hear you ask?
PlanetSKI reporter James Rampton gave it a go a few seasons back in Serre Chevalier:
Thursday 18th February
Norway Reports Spike in Interest for Next Winter
“Bookings from our key operators across Europe are looking extremely positive from next winter, with some operators reporting 100% + up on sales figures from last Winter prior to COVID,” said the CEO of Norway-Home of Skiing, Trevor de Villiers, to PlanetSKI.
“This is very encouraging early signs that Norway will attract lots of travellers, especially from the UK which is a key International market for the Norwegian ski resorts.
“With the hugely positive roll-out of vaccines by the UK government, it seems that the UK will indeed be a leading source of tourism to the Norwegian mountains next winter and I believe people are looking for destinations with lots of uncrowded space which Norway is synonymous with.”
See here for our full length feature on current skiing conditions in Norway and how successful the country has been in battling coronavirus:
Another UK SKI Operator Cancels this Season
Hotelplan that runs Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski has cancelled all holidays for 2020/21 due to the pandemci.
Earlier this week Crystal Ski called it a day.
Due to the ongoing impacts of covid-19, this week, we have suspended all Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski trips for the rest of this winter,” said Hotelplan UK CEO, Joe Ponte.
“We’re very disappointed for everyone impacted by this news. Customers with bookings in April will be offered a refund or the chance to postpone their holiday until a later date.
“We would like to thank our customers and partners for their patience and understanding, and as always, they can be reassured that we will continue to look to do the right thing by them.
Sweden Plans for Third Wave
Sweden’s government has announced it is preparing new legislation that would enable it to close gyms, restaurants and hairdressers – if there is a third wave.
Its ski resorts will remain open with some advice on measures people should take.
The country has never imposed the type of lockdown seen across Europe.
It has seen much higher levels of coronavirus than its Scandinavian neighbours – 617,869 cases and 12,487 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
It has recently introduced some measures with limits on the number of people allowed in shopping centres and sports facilities.
“In the event that the infection rate deteriorates drastically, the government will need to close some businesses,” a statement from the government said.
Sweden’s Public Health Agency has warned that the risk of a third wave is “high”.
Wednesday 17th January
Switzerland Outlines Relaxation of Restrictions
It wants to ease measures on March 1st with sports facilities reopening and more people allowed at private events.
In ski resorts ice rinks would be allowed to open though bars, restaurants and sporting events must remain closed to the public.
The Federal government made the announcement on Wednesday and it will now discuss the measures with regional authorities.
It wants a “cautious, gradual opening in order to give more space to social and economic life again.”
A final decision on the plans will be made on 24th February.
“From March 1, shops, museums and library reading rooms should be allowed to reopen, as well as outside spaces at zoos and botanical gardens, and at sports and leisure facilities,” the government said in a statement.
Up to 15 people would be allowed to meet outdoors – it is currently 5.
Ski resorts have been allowed to remain open with strict covid-19 regulations in place.
Read more here in our full story:
Snowkite Masters 2021 Underway
Despite the lifts being closed in France alternative ski events are continuing in some resorts.
The Snowkite Masters 2021 is one of the rare events that can still be held this winter, as ski lifts are not required.
It is taking place in Alpe d’Huez in the Isere region all week, from Monday 15th to Friday 19 February 2021.
Its organisers have come up with a whole new format: an event full of fun and a way of sharing the sport’s winds of freedom giving holidaymakers the opportunity to enjoy a live, thrilling, freestyle show.
“In this very special winter season, snowkiting has beaten all records for interest among the general public, skiers, snowboarders, hikers and of course, kitesurfers,” said a statement from the organisers.
French Ski Resorts Await Government Decisions
President Emmanuel Macron chairs France’s defence council that meets today.
According to media reports there are no plans to tighten health measures in France when the current winter holidays come to an end.
Currently ski resorts can not run their lifts until the end of February at the earliest.
Many resorts think the ban will be extended.
Cases are in slow decline with around 20,000 new cases reported each day.
The target is 5,000.
Local elections planned for next month have been postponed until June.
Skiing in Andorra Remains for Locals Only
The deadline for deciding if Spaniards can ski in the Principality in the Pyrenees has passed – it remains for Andorrans only.
The French government has banned its citizens from crossing the border into Andorra, but there is reportedly a thriving black market in lift passes.
Andorra closed its resorts at the start of the season as a sign of “solidarity” with its European neighbours.
In January it has opened the ski areas but only for people living in Andorra.
The ski resorts in neighbouring Spain are open, but not the ones in the French Pyrenees.
Coronavirus cases remain high in Andorra and Spain, though France is doing considerably better.
Andorra has one of the highest rates in Europe with 331 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
It is 242 in Spain and 104 in France.
This week Andorran officials met and decided to keep its ski border with Spain closed.
But they are working on allowing people to arrive from some areas of Spain when conditions allow.
Here at PlanetSKI we understand there is a problem with the re-selling of local lift passes to people from Spain and France.
We are told that vehicles with non-Andorran license plates are seen every day in the parking areas of the ski resorts.
Tuesday 16th February
British Seasonal Workers Arrested at Illegal Party in Austrian Ski Resort
Police in the Tirol in Austria have arrested two British nationals who were allegedly attending an illegal party in Soll.
The police were called to an apartment in the ski resort after a complaint from neighbours about noise.
They found at least six British nationals who they said appeared to be drunk.
None was wearing FFP2 masks.
At least two people escaped via the balcony.
Two men, aged 41 and 24, were arrested for trying to punch the police.
No one was injured.
The two men face charges of resisting the police and have now been released.
The group faces charges of violating pandemic rules.
Austrian media reports say that the group was seasonal workers who are legally resident in Austria.
All Skiers in the Tirol Need Negative Covid-19 Test Before Hitting the Slopes
It is one of a handful of new measures as the Austrian state is sealed off from the rest of the country & Germany is set to extend its border closure.
The Tirol has Europe’s highest outbreak of the South African variant.
Anyone using the slopes must now have a negative test taken in the previous 48-hours.
It can be a PCR or antigen test.
The rule has been introduced with immediate affect
Children under the age of 10 are exempt from the regulation.
People who have been infected with the coronavirus in the past six months, and can provide a medical certificate, are also not affected by the new rules.
Ski tourers will not have to provide a test as long as they stay off piste.
People will still be able to use the lifts for site seeing purposes, but will not be allowed on the slopes.
The lifts come under the jurisdiction of the federal Ministry for Transport, rather than regional authorities
There will be random health checks carried out to ensure people are sticking to the regulations.
The Tirol says it is determined to keep ski resorts safe and open.
Skiing in Norway
One of the European countries that has battled Covid-19 well is Norway.
Cases & deaths are low with skiing open for its own residents this winter.
Conditions have so far been good.
New restrictions have forced the cancellation of all remaining World Cup competitions.
Unlike most of Europe, Norway has had a relatively ‘normal’ 2020-21 ski season.
Yes, there are the usual social distancing rules to be followed – for example on lifts and online booking for lift passes to keep numbers in check.
Those of us outside the country can’t travel in to ski but lucky locals have been able to get on the slopes.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the authoritative source on Covid-19 figures globally, Norway had recorded 592 deaths and 66,501 cases to Monday 15th February.
The Norwegian economy has done well in comparison to other European nations.
Its economy contracted 2.5% in 202o.
The UK saw a 9.9% fall in GDP in 2020, while the Eurozone has seen an average reduction of 6.8%.
See here for our full report on the current situation in Norway:
Crystal Ski Holidays Cancels All Holidays for This Season
The UK’s largest ski operator has formally announced it will not be running any holidays this winter.
Some had hoped there might be a possibility towards the end of the season.
The announcement was made by the company’s managing director, Chris Logan.
“We’re so disappointed not to be able to get our customers to the mountains this winter and we’d like to thank them for their continued patience, understanding and support,” he said.
“We know skiers and snowboarders are desperate to get back on the snow and we’re now looking forward to making next winter one to remember.”
See here for our full story
US Ski Resort Sees 100+ Covid-19 Cases Among its Staff
At least 109 employees have tested positive at Winter Park in Colorado.
The figures have been released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“It has been determined that these cases have not been traced back to transmission through interaction with visitors but, rather, from social gatherings outside of the workplace and congregate housing,” Grand County, Colorado, officials said in a joint statement with Winter Park Resort.
Other ski resorts in Colorado have cases but this is believed to be the largest.
“We have been working closely with public health authorities since the pandemic began,” said Jen Miller, communications manager at the ski resort.
“We did extensive planning and had to get approval from the state on our operations before we could open on December 3rd.”
The press secretary for the Colorado Governor has said ski resorts across the state need to “do a better job planning for and managing surge weekends.”
Monday 15th February
UK Ski Companies Urge Boris Johnson to Help Travel Industry
As new quarantine measures come into force today the Save Future Travel Coalition says the Prime Minister needs to use next week’s lockdown update to provide a route forward for the travel industry.
This week should have been one of the busiest weeks for winter holidays.
Many travel agents and tour operators haven’t been able to operate or generate income since the start of the pandemic last March.
Half term represents around 15% of ABTA ski members’ total bookings for the winter season.
France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are usually among the most popular destinations along with North America.
For companies providing ski and snow trips to schools, the same period would usually bring 40% of their annual revenues.
This year that revenue is lost.
See here for out full story:
Italian Government Orders Ski Resorts to Remain Closed
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.
They say they are ‘disappointed’.
On Sunday evening the health minister Roberto Speranza signed a measure prolonging the ban on recreational skiing at resorts until March 5th.
It follows concerns over the spread of variant viruses in recent days.
New data shows that the British variant of the coronavirus now represents, on average, 17.8% 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.
See here for our full story:
Lockdown Ski Lessons with a Difference
Fancy some top tips on your ski technique?
Let’s face it, most of us are not going to see a slope this season but we can still benefit from free coaching by expert instructors.
Our friends at Maison Sport have launched what they say is a unique new service connecting independent ski instructors with skiers and snowboarders unable to hit the slopes who want to keep working on their ski skills.
The ‘virtual’ service is available free to skiers of all levels, though you’ll need a video of yourself skiing.
Customers simply upload their videos and can, if they wish, request help on specific areas they want the instructor to focus on.
Within 48 hours, one of Maison Sport’s independent ski instructors – including a number of ex Olympic skiers – will analyse the videos and offer tailor-made feedback.
Read more here:
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:
February 8th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
February 1st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
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