×

Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding

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 28th February

Some Restrictions Ease in Switzerland From Monday

Starting on March 1st shops, museums, zoos and libraries can re-open.

Outdoor gatherings of 15 people will be allowed – an increase from the current 5-person limit.

Recreational facilities that take place outdoors such as ice skating will be allowed as long as they comply with hygiene restrictions.

We reported on the proposals and then their endorsement earlier on PlanetSKI:

Restaurants and bars will have to remain closed until at least March 22nd.

There had been pressure to end the ban on hospitality venues opening outside and for takeaways.

Some cantons defied the rule on outside terraces needing to remain closed and allowed them to open them last week despite the Federal Government ban.

The cantons included Graubunden, Glarus and Ticino.

The cantons wanted to convince the government that their closure was counterproductive.

They have since decided to obey the rules and they closed at the weekend.

Italian Resort of Alta Badia Closes for Rest of Season

The resort in the Dolomites sees no prospects of  being allowed to open in any meaningful way this winter.

Coronavirus remains prevalent in the Sud Tirol region and it is on one of the highest levels of restrictions in Italy.

“It’s been months now that we’ve waited for the moment to share again our mountains with you,” the resort said in a statement.

“We believed in it until the end, but we will have to postpone this dream until next year.

“Given the situation of enormous uncertainty and to ensure prevention and safety we have finally decided that the ski lifts in Alta Badia will not open this winter season.

“We are confident that things are going better soon, and will now work to be ready for the summer – to contemplate the intensity of nature and welcome you, our dear guests and friends, showcasing the Dolomites in all their splendor.”

Coping with Covid-19 in New Zealand

It is a year since coronavirus started to spread across the world.

In our occasional series we hear from PlanetSKI readers who have lived through it out in the mountains.

It’s the turn of David Brown from Wanaka in New Zealand

“When COVID hit we went into full lockdown (Level 4) on the 25th March last year in a ‘Declared National Emergency’.

“We were not allowed out, there was no inbound our outbound flights, we were not allowed to work unless from home or in an essential business.

“We could not meet others, we couldn’t be beside anyone that was not in our own ‘bubble’.

“We fully closed our business and stayed at home for what was an indefinite time.”

New Zealand has had 26 deaths.

Read here for David’s account …

Saturday 27th February

St Anton Reopens for Skiing

The resort closed earlier this month after compulsory Covid-19 tests were needed due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the Tirol.

Systems are now in place and some slopes are open.

“We are pleased to announce that the Arlberger Bergbahnen will resume operations on Saturday, 27.02.2021,” said the resort ahead of the lifts turning.

Not all the lifts are open but there’s enough for those lucky enough to be able to reach the slopes.

See here for the full details:

St Anton, Tirol, Austria

St Anton, Tirol, Austria. Image c/o St Anton.

Tougher Restrictions in Two Ski Regions in Italy

As expected Piedmont and Lombardy in the north of the country are going under further measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.

They go into so-called ‘Orange Zones’.

Bars and restaurants are to close and people cannot leave their towns except for work or medical reasons.

We reported on the move earlier today and it has now been confirmed by the government.

New measures are expected early next week with an Emergency Decree due by Friday March 5th.

Ski Holiday Sales Surge for Next Season

Operators report a rise in bookings and interest for next season.

It follows the roll out of vaccines, easing of lockdown restrictions, plus talk of vaccine passports to allow travel.

Is it too soon to be optimistic?

The surge in interest in summer travel has been well documented this week with airlines, holiday companies and summer resorts reporting soaring sales.

It should be pointed out that this interest comes from a low base so percentage rises in sales should be judged accordingly.

The same spirit of confidence is reflected in ski bookings for next winter with a significant rise in interest.

See here for our full story:

Two Ski Regions in Italy Set to See Further Restrictions

Piedmont and Lombardy look set to be declared ‘Orange Zones’ as cases continue to spread.

Ski resorts are currently closed in the regions, and it means there is no immediate prospect of them opening.

In Orange Zones, bars and restaurants are shut and people cannot leave their home towns except for work reasons or emergencies.

An announcement is expected shortly and the new measures could come into force as early as Sunday.

Lombardy’s main ski resorts are Livigno and Bormio.

Piedmont is the location for the Milky Way ski resorts including Sestriere and Sauze d’Oulx.

Many of the new coronavirus cases are the British variant.

Italy currently has 171 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

That has been hope many ski resorts would open earlier this month but that was cancelled as the variant viruses began to spread and scientists predicted the current situation.

Elsewhere in the Alps the rate for France is 223 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

It is 145 in Austria and 82 in Switzerland.

In the UK it remains at 107.

Livigno, Lombardy, Italy

Livigno, Lombardy, Italy

Owner of British Airways Calls for Digital Health Passes

IAG said it would “re-open our skies safely”.

The group had an operating loss of £6.5bn for last year following the coronavirus pandemic.

IAG said what was needed was “a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right”.

It was unable to provide a forecast of future profits/losses.

See our earlier story on PlanetSKI as we looked at the possibility of the need for a vaccine passport.

British Airways logo

British Airways

Friday 26th February

British Alpine Championships Cancelled Due to Covid-19

GB Snowsport today announced that the British Senior Alpine Championships 2021, which were due to be held in Tignes, France between March 28th – April 4th, 2021 have been called off.

GB Snowsport has monitored the COVID-19 situation and has made the decision due to the British Government’s guidelines around international travel.

Next winter the Senior Championships are scheduled to take place between 27th March to 3rd April 2022 and the Children’s Championships from 4th April to 8th April.

“It is with great regret that we have to make this announcement,” said the GB Snowsport Alpine Director,   Paul Trayner.

“The GB Champs is a real highlight of the season and a key milestone event for so many of our athletes.

“The GB Snowsport alpine squad have achieved some fantastic results so far this season, and I know they were looking forward to competing in Tignes.

“To be starved of it for 2 consecutive seasons is a real shame but we will return to Tignes in 2022 and endeavour to make it the biggest and best GB Champs yet.

“This year has been a real challenge for us all and I hope that we can get back to the sport that we love very soon”.

GB Snowsport

GB Snowsport

“Hosting the GB Snowsport British Alpine Championships in Tignes has become a tradition over the years,” added the Director General of Tignes Development, Frédéric Porte.

“The bond that we have with GB Snowsport has historically been very strong and seeing the 2021 edition of the Championships also being cancelled (after the first cancellation in 2020) due to the global COVID pandemic is a great disappointment for all.

“We will make sure though that together with GB Snowsport we will prepare the best ever 2022 edition. In the meantime; stay safe!”

The Queen Urges People to Get Vaccinated

Here on PlanetSKI we have been looking at whether  we will need a vaccine passport to travel next winter.

Austria wants a system put in places within months and Switzerland is backing the move:

In an unusual move Her Majesty has joined the debate in a zoom call.

The Queen has been on zoom talking of her experiences.

Her Majesty has urged people to get a Covid vaccine when they are offered one, saying hers “didn’t hurt at all”.

The monarch, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, received their first doses of the vaccine in January.

In a video call with health leaders delivering the Covid vaccine across the UK, the Queen was asked about her experience of having the jab.

She smiled as she replied: “Well, as far as I can make out it was quite harmless.

“It was very quick, and I’ve had lots of letters from people who’ve been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine.”

“It didn’t hurt at all,” the Queen said, adding that she has since felt “protected”.

The monarch said she understood getting a jab could be a “difficult” experience for some people but urged everyone to “think about other people rather than themselves”.

Her Majesty on Zoom

Her Majesty on Zoom

Verbier Closes Part of Ski Area as Ski Numbers Fall Due to Covid-19

The Bruson area of the Swiss resort is to shut on Sunday March 7th for the rest of the winter.

“The season has been very complicated,” said the lift company, Televerbier.

“The health crisis has a negative impact on the number of visitors to our ski area,” said the CEO of Televerbier, Laurent Vaucher, in a statement.

“In fact, in comparison with previous seasons, the drop is significant due to the notable absence of international customers.

“In addition, the closure of catering outlets has serious consequences for our society.

“In view of the above, we need to take some cost-saving measure.”

The area was due to remain open until April 5th.

“This decision was not an easy one. However, this is an exceptional measure for an exceptional situation,” added Laurent Vaucher.

Read the full story here:

Situation Worsens in Parts of France But Another Lockdown Ruled Out

The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has said the current Covid-19 situation in some parts of France is ‘worrying’.

Cases in the Alps and the Pyrenees remain steady and relatively under control though concerns are rising after the holiday period.

“The health situation in our country has worsened over recent days. Yesterday we reported over 30,000 positive cases, a figure we haven’t recorded since last November,” he said on Thursday in a televised address.

France had been aiming to get the figure down to 5,000 per day and is not in lockdown like many other countries in Europe.

The Prime Minister warned that the virus had been gaining ground over the past week and said time was now needed to allow vaccines to work.

Twenty départements in France have been placed on ‘heightened surveillance’ with the threat of extra health restrictions including weekend lockdowns as Covid virus numbers rise.

The Alpes Maritimes is the only mountainous region in France on the list.

The region contains the resort of Isola 2000 and a handful of smaller ones.

See here for the full story:

Thursday 25th February

Ski Resorts in Finland Affected by New Restrictions

Finland is set to introduce tougher restrictions on March 8th, as cases rise.

Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, said bars and restaurants will close and students over 13 will switch to remote learning.

Ski resorts can stay open but many facilities will shut and strict social distancing measures will be enforced.

“From  8.3.2021, restrictions apply to restaurant activities and public gatherings,” said the resort of Levi.

“Restaurants deliver food to cottages and holiday apartments in Levi, stores are open and there is a delivery service on offer.

“You can order outdoor equipment delivered to the apartment, so you can take a vacation with your own company and do winter sports without external contacts.”

Message from Levi

Message from Levi

Prime Minister Marin added that she was prepared to announce a state of emergency next week which would require health workers to cancel any planned leave.

Finland has seen a recent rise in cases – 75% of the new confirmed cases are thought to be English variant.

The hospital district of Helsinki has warned that critical care beds are filling up quickly.

Finland has done extremely well in battling the virus with some of the lowest levels in Europe since the outbreak began.

It currently has 61 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

It has seen 55,122 cases and 737 deaths.

Will We need a Vaccine Passport to Head to the Mountains Next Winter?

It is looking increasing likely with a number of countries including Austria and Switzerland supporting the idea.

The airline industry itself is set to introduce a Covid Travel Pass with trials underway.

As the vaccine roll out continues and some control is brought over coronavirus no country wants to import the virus and its variants.

Negative tests and vaccine certificates are likely to be the norm.

Support is growing in Switzerland for the introduction of an immunity card to allow people to enter the country.

The current Swiss President, Guy Parmelin, has said that “everyone who wants to travel will need to be vaccinated in the future”.

Several prominent Swiss politicians and health experts have added their support to a vaccination passport.

It would also allow holders to go to ski resorts, bars, gyms and attend events within the country.

Austria has expressed interest in the idea as it hopes to re-start summer tourism in the mountains.

See here for our full story:

Innsbruck airport

Innsbruck airport

Swedish Doctor ‘Worried’ as Ski Resorts Enter Busy Holiday Period

Sweden has decided to leave its ski resorts open during the current holiday period. It comes amid concerns of rising infections.

Anderd Lindblom is an infectious disease doctor who works in Dalarna near the ski resort of Salen and others.

“If the cases increase in the ski resorts, they’re going to take their disease back to their home counties, and if we see a lot of increase in those counties, it could mean more patients in hospital.

“The cases have been increasing a little bit over the last three weeks from a relatively low level, but the travel obviously makes it difficult to foresee what’s coming. So I’m a little bit worried about what’s going to happen.

“In the ski resorts in Dalarna, they are following the rules pretty well, but when they go shopping on the way to the ski resorts, it gets crowded in the shops and in the petrol stations on the way up.

He was speaking to The Local – Sweden, and you can read the full article here

“It’s very important that people follow the rules in the ski resorts, to keep their distance and avoid crowded areas, especially indoors.

“I don’t think the problem is outside. If you’re outside, the risk of spreading the disease is minimal. The high risk is crowded places indoors – shops and restaurants.

“If you just stay with your family or your travel companions when you’re indoors, it’s not that risky. It’s when you have parties with other people, and mix with other people, that there’s a problem.”

Switzerland Agrees Easing of Some Covid-19 Measures

They were outlined earlier this month and now Federal & Cantonal authorities have agreed the details.

Restaurants and bars will remain closed, something some ski resorts oppose.

The new rules come into force on March 1st.

Outdoor gatherings of 15 people will be allowed – an increase from the current 5-person limit.

Recreational facilities that take place outdoors such as ice skating will be allowed as long as they comply with hygiene restrictions.

Shops, zoos, museums and libraries will re-open.

Restaurants will remain closed until at least March 22nd, with further discussions on any re-opening taking place on March 12th.

In an apparent compromise the date to open has been moved forward from the original date of April 1st

Some ski resorts had been lobbying hard to ease the ban on indoor and outdoor eating – the restrictions have been in place since mid-December.

“We are taking a considerable – but calculated risk,” said the Interior Minister, Alain Berset, as the measures were unveiled.

Read our full report here:

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Wednesday 24th February

‘Too Early’ To Book Foreign Holidays says Home Secretary

The British Home Secretary has said people should not yet be booking holidays abroad.

“It’s too early. It’s far too early,” Priti Patel told the Home Affairs Select Committee.

“We have to look at the data at every single stage and the road map.”

She was asked whether it would be wise to wait until the global task force report to the Prime Minister on 12th April, to book a summer trip.

“It is too early, absolutely. There is a road map… We have to continue with the vaccine rollout. There are four tests that the Prime Minister has outlined that we will need to meet before restrictions change.”

Airlines and tour operators have reported a surge in bookings following the Prime Minister’s statement on Monday.

Boris Johnson gave details of his plan for coming out of lockdown in England gradually over the next four months.

It raised hopes that we might get some glacier skiing in the Alps in the summer or even some late spring turns in Scotland.

Pressure on travel

Pressure on travel

Update from Europe

Poland is to unveil regional restrictions to counter a rise in cases since measures were relaxed 12 days ago.

More than 20,000 people flocked to the main ski resort of Zakopane when it reopened, with many ignoring  social distancing and other regulations.

We reported on the situation in Poland in this recent overview of the situation in ski resorts across Eastern Europe:

In Sweden the government is expected to toughen nationwide Covid recommendations later.

Several regions have recently stepped up guidelines asking passengers to wear face masks on public transport at all times – not just in rush hour.

Ski resorts in Sweden remain open.

Huge Loss for Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has reported a £2bn annual loss after passenger numbers plummeted during the pandemic.

It says 2020 was the toughest year in its 75-year history and the loss “underlines the devastating impact of Covid-19 on aviation”.

Heathrow’s results contained a warning it may not be able to carry on if passenger numbers remain low.

However, its boss said the airport had enough money to cope until 2023.

John Holland-Kaye has also told the BBC that he thought people would be likely to be able to go on their summer holidays.

Under the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which was published on Monday, international travel could resume in mid-May though it requires countries allowing in UK citizens.

Many in Europe and elsewhere currently do not.

See our report here:

How will the easing of lockdown measures in England affect the world of snowsports and travel

Heathrow

Heathrow

Cases Rise in Austria & More Areas Could Demand FFP2 Masks Are Worn

The masks have been compulsory in ski resorts since the lifts began turning on December 24th.

There has been a rise in cases across the country as some measures have been eased.

The Austrian Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, has said rules for wearing the mask would be up to state and municipal authorities, but that it was necessary as the country was entering a “risk phase all the way until Easter”.

Cases are on the rise with 134 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

“Any mouth and nose protection is good, but the FFP2 mask is massively better,” said the health minister.

FFP2 masks offer better protection against the coronavirus and other pathogens, with up to 94% of aerosols filtered out.

They are made of several layers of fabric and paper, plus have built-in filters.

The masks do not have to be changed daily and can be used several times.

They must not be washed so as not to destroy the filter function.

Read our full story here:

FFP2 mask on the ski slopes of Austria

FFP2 mask on the ski slopes of Austria

Tuesday 23rd February

Regional Travel Ban Extended in Italy

The new government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi has extended until 27th March a ban on travel between Italy’s regions.

It will have a significant and continued impact on mountain areas.

It is a further blow for the hopes of some tourism in the mountain regions, and is being done to curb the spread of the virus.

Travel for tourism in Italy remains prohibited.

Last week it was hoped that ski resorts could open and there was hope the regional travel ban would be lifted.

The ski resorts were ordered not to open at the 11th hour.

Now the regional travel ban has been extended.

The new decree also extends a restriction on private visits: no more than two adults and children under 14 can visit another person’s home.

The travel ban had been set to expire on Thursday 25th February.

See here for more:

Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley, Italy

Parts of Alpes-Maritimes Go into Partial Lockdown at Weekends

The region is seeing the highest rate of cases in France.

The mountains areas, that include the ski resort of Isola 2000 and others, will not have to adhere to the new restrictions being introduced elsewhere in the region.

The area around Nice, which has the highest rate in France, will go into partial lockdown for the next two weekends.

It has more than 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – more than three times higher than the national average of 190.

The area has been described as “out of control”.

It had been thought the whole of the Alpes-Maritimes might go under the same measures.

The mountain areas are likely breathing a sigh of relief.

France has the highest number of people in intensive care units since the start of December.

The country is not under national lockdown, but infection rates have stayed high despite an overnight curfew and other curbs.

How will Easing of Lockdown Measures in England Affect the World of Snowsports?

Skiers and snowboarders will be looking at whether it might possible to make some end of season turns or visit the mountains this summer for glacier skiing.

Will we be allowed to enter EU countries and will we need negative tests and/or vaccine passports?

Plus, what will be happening to the indoor snowcentres & the outdoor artificial slopes in England?

Might skiing in Scotland be possible in the Spring?

Snowsport England has welcomed the developments.

“After the PM’s address to the members of parliament we are excited to see the return of our sport,” it said in a statement.

” We see that outdoor activity can start on the 29th of March 2021 and indoor activity no earlier than the 12th of April 2021.

“However, we still do not have the actual detail to what this will look like in terms of restrictions on activity or travel.

“We will be releasing updated guidance when we have confirmation on what can happen.”

See here for our full story:

The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead

The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead. Image c/o The Snow Centre.

Monday 22nd February

Engadin to Hold Cross-Country World Cup after Oslo Axes Event Due to Covid-19 Restrictions

Norway is unable to stage any FIS events after entry restrictions were extended by the government.

Switzerland has already staged two Cross-Country World Cup events this season.

The International Ski Federation, FIS, said Swiss-Ski’s “established health concept” would be “the base to ensure a safe field of play”.

“Saturday’s mass start competitions will take place in Surlej and Sunday’s pursuit follows mainly along the profile of the prestigious Engadin Skimarathon course,” said a statement from the International Ski Federation.

The mass start races will take place on March 13th, followed by the pursuit contests on March 14th.

Skiing and Snowboarding Situation in Europe

Some resorts in the Tirol in Austria have re-opened with a Covid-19 negative test required.

Other resorts in Austria remain open for locals only + we look at elsewhere in the Alps, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia.

UK citizens remain unable to travel & likely for some time to come.

One of our readers, Elena Protopopow, was skiing in Berger Alm in the Tirol where free Covid-19 tests were being offered.

“Great snow conditions, perfect weather and also the testing at the mountain station went smoothly and free of charge,” said Elena.

“After 15 minutes you could already start and no streams of visitors.  Everything went well and measures were adhered to

Elena Protopopow

Elena Protopopow

See here for our full story:

All Hotel Staff in Wengen Tested for Covid-19

It comes as several cases of the South African and Brazilian variants have been found in the Swiss ski resort.

The spread of the variants will determine whether restrictions can be eased next month.

“Due to the presence of several positive cases of the South African and Brazilian variants among staff at different hotels in Wengen (sequencing still taking place) and given the impossibility of retracing the contamination chains, the cantonal doctor’s service has ordered that every member of hotel staff at the resort should be tested,” said a statement from the cantonal health authorities.

Those tests have been carried out over the weekend, some 300, and currently no positive cases have been detected.

The medical authorities are also encouraging guests at the hotels to get tested.

The authorities are currently considering a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions at the beginning of March.

Much will depend on the spread of the new variants of the virus as ski resorts remain open and the holiday period has its impact.

Read more here:

Skiing in Switzerland

Skiing 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:

February 15th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

July 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 19th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 5th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 28th: Coroanvirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 7th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 31st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 24th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 17th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

May 3rd: The coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 26th: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding continues

April 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiiing and snowboarding continues

April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

March 29th: Our rolling blog on the impact of Covid-19 continues

March 23rd: PlanetSKI’s rolling blog on the coronavirus impact on skiing continues

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •