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Coronavirus Restrictions & Measures in the Ski Nations of Europe

Some are starting to ease restrictions, others are extending lockdowns or introducing new regional measures. Some resorts are opening while others are closing. It remains a complex picture with changes announced this week.

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Things are taking a turn for the worse in Scandinavia with Sweden, Norway and Finland tightening restrictions as cases of Covid-19 rise.

Ski resorts remain open.

In the Pyrenees, the French resorts remain closed, Andorra is for locals only while some resorts remain open in Spain though others have closed and regional travel is severely restricted in some places.

In the Alps it is more complex with some countries easing things as cases fall, but others are seeing worrying increase in the variant viruses.

In eastern Europe cases are surging in the Czech Republic and Poland has had to re-introduce some measures as it eased things too early.

Other countries such as Bulgaria have the ski areas open with a lower number of cases.

We cover all the nations in this detailed report.

We start with the main nations in the Alps.

Austria

The Austrian government announced an easing of restrictions on Monday 1st March.

Restaurants and bars with terraces can open again on March 27th.

All visitors will need to have evidence of a negative Covid-19 test.

Youth and school sports will also be allowed to start again in the whole of Austria from March 15th.

The loosening will come earlier in the state of Vorarlberg, with outside areas at bars and restaurants allowed to open from March 15th.

Cultural venues will also be allowed to open and amateur sport will again be allowed.

“We start outdoors before we can dare to approach indoors,” said Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, as he unveiled the new measures.

Austria hopes to have 1m people vaccinated by Easter – it has a population of 9m.

The Tirol remains in isolation with people unable to leave without a negative test.

A negative test is also need to ski on the slopes in the Tirol

Some resorts closed and last weekend St Anton re-opened.

Austria has announced plans to develop Covid vaccines with Denmark and Israel.

The leaders of the three countries leaders are to meet in Israel on Thursday.

Chancellor Kurz said the EU’s European Medicines Agency was too slow to approve vaccines, and it was important to be prepared for further mutations of coronavirus.

Austria currently has 158 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

France

Ski resorts remain open but the lifts are not allowed to run.

On Monday the French President, Emmanuel Macron, said there will be no immediate change to the 6pm to 6am curfew.

President Macron said the country would need to continue with the 12-hour curfew for another four to six weeks.

France first introduced an 8pm curfew in mid-December, but extended it to 6pm on 16th January.

Almost all over 50s in France are expected to have been offered a first dose of the vaccine by mid-May, according to the French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

Ski lifts remain closed and the government had said they would remain so until the end of February.

That time has come, but there is no formal word.

We expect announcement this week, but many of the resorts are not hopeful.

Some also think it would simply be uneconomical to re-start operation with the main part of the season gone.

Resorts remain open for other on-snow activities.

Ski resorts report that they had 20% – 30% of their normal numbers over the February holiday period.

Schools are open with extra testing in place. Bars and restaurants are closed but are able to offer a takeaway service.

Theatres and cinemas remain shut.

Last week parts of the Alpes-Maritimes in the south east of the country saw further restrictions.

The region contains the ski resort of Isola 2000 and a handful of smaller ones, but they were exempt from the new rules.

The authorities have concerns for 20 regions in France.

“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,” said the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, last week.

France was trying to reduce the daily figure down to 5,000 and so is some way off its target.

France currently has 224 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Germany

The ski resorts remain closed.

Medical grade masks need to be worn in shops and on public transport.

Non-essential shops, as well as hairdressers, schools, restaurants, bars and leisure centres remain closed.

Private meetings are limited to one other person from a separate household.

On Wednesday 3rd March Germany’s federal and state governments extended the country’s shutdown until March 28th – but several relaxations of current measures are planned for next Monday.

Germany has closed its border with the Czech Republic and the Tirol region in Austria

Germany currently has 67 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Italy

Ski resorts remain closed to the general public and a rise in cases in parts of the Alps has led to Piedment and Lombardy going into a higher level of restrictions.

Some say this vindicates the decision of the authorities at the 11th hour to stop ski resorts opening even though they had earlier said they could.

The forecast rise in cases has materialised, with many being the variant viruses.

Alta Badia in the Dolomites has said it will not be opening this winter.

It sees no prospects of  being allowed to open in any meaningful way this season.

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

A nationwide curfew from 22:00 to 05:00 remains in place, travel between Italy’s 20 regions is banned, and mask-wearing is mandatory in public, both indoors and outdoors.

Some bars and restaurants in some of Italy’s regions are now again allowed to serve customers at tables and counters until 18:00.

There have been changes to the zones from Monday March 1st and here are the zones she main ski areas are in.

Yellow zones:  Valle d’Aosta.

Orange zones: Lombardy, Piedmont, Abruzzo, autonomous province of Bolzano (Sud Tirol).

People in orange zones will not be allowed to travel from one municipality to another, unless for essential reasons, by either public or private transport.

Italy currently has 192 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Switzerland

Ski resorts in Switzerland remain open.

The head of Switzerland claims keeping resorts open has proved to be the right decision, though others disagree.

Some restrictions eased in Switzerland on Monday 1st March.

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

Outdoor gatherings of 15 people are allowed – an increase from the previous 5-person limit.

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

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

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.

Switzerland currently has 83 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Eastern Europe

We will be looking in detail at the situation later on Tuesday, but in the meantime this is what we know.

Bulgaria

Ski resorts remain open with social distancing and other measures in place.

It is the success story of the eastern European ski nations with relatively low cases of Covid-19 and open slopes.

It offers this advice to its ski areas.

The most important rules that must be followed by all:

1. Observance of at least 1.5 meters distance from strangers

2. Proper wearing of the face protection mask in indoor public places

3. Do not shake hands when greeting

4. Cover your nose and mouth or wear a protective mask when you are surrounded by many people

5. Wash your hands often

6. Sneezing and coughing should be done in the curve of the elbow or in a handkerchief

7. Regular ventilation of enclosed spaces

8. If symptoms occur or if you feel sick, do not go out and do not meet other people

In case a tourist feels sick:

1. Avoid contact with other people

2. The person has to stay at her/his accommodation and inform the manager or receptionist, ask for assistance and for contact with a medical institution or contact phone nr. 112.

These measures may be changed at any time in the event of significant changes in the epidemic situation.

Bulgaria currently has 146 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

The Czech Republic

It is one of the hardest hit countries in Europe.

The Czech Republic has tightened restrictions in the country with the state of emergency extended.

Only essential travel between regions is allowed with schools closed.

It has more new cases per million in the past seven days than any other country in the world.

France has offered the Czech Republic 100,000 doses of vaccine in a show of solidarity.

The Czech government has asked the government in Beijing for deliveries of the vaccines made by China’s Sinopharm.

The final World Cup Snowboard Slopestyle event of the season has been cancelled and moved to Swiss resort Corvatsch and will take place on March 27th and 28th.

The Czech Republic currently has 769 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Poland

It allowed ski resorts to open on two weeks ago.

20,000 turned up in Zakopane with some not following the rules.

Some restrictions have now been re-introduced as cases have surged with ski resorts remaining open.

On Thursday in Poland, 15,250 new cases were reported – the highest since the previous peak in November.

It’s a 26% rise from the number reported a week ago – ‘the third coronavirus wave in Poland is gathering pace’ said health ministry officials.

On Wednesday, the government announced it would open temporary hospitals in nine provinces.

Last Saturday, shopping centres, hotels, cinemas, theatres and swimming pools closed in the rural north-eastern province of Warmia Masuria which has been experiencing double the national infection rate.

On Monday, primary school classes for years 1-3 were closed as teaching went back online.

Most of the new cases are the UK variant.

Poland currently has 177 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Slovakia

The main resort of Jasna has been closed since January 1st.

“Based on the current government decision to tighten preventive measures, we are closing the operation of the ski resort from 1 January 2021,” said the resort at the time.

The country is to use the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

The EU’s European Medicines Agency,EMA, has not yet approved Sputnik V.

Slovakia has received the first batch of what will be two million doses.

Slovakia currently has 292 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Slovenia

All ski resorts in Slovenia are open and a negative test is required to buy a ski pass.

“The restaurants on the ski slopes are mostly running to-go, you can get everything except alcohol,” said PlanetSKI reader,  Boris Milikic.

“We like to ski in Slovenia and this year there is a lot of snow, unlike in some Scandinavian countries and many alpine ski resorts.”

The resort of Rogla is open – with a negative Covid-19 test required to buy a ski pass.

The resort has held the FIS Snowboard Alpine World Championships.

The World Cup season in Para Nordic skiing is set to begin this week in Slovenia.

Planica and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia will host three cross-country and three biathlon races from 3rd to 10th March.

Slovenia currently has 253 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Pyrenees

Andorra

In Andorra the skiing and snowboarding is for locals only.

Last week Andorran officials met and decided to keep its ski border with Spain closed.

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.

Andorra currently has 228 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

France

All ski lifts in the French resort remain closed.

See the section above detailing the situation across resorts in the Alps as the same rules apply to the Pyrenees.

Cases in the Pyrenees in the south west of the country remain among the highest.

Spain

Some ski resorts remain open, though strict travel restrictions remain.

Aragon and Catalonia in the Pyrenees do not allow people to leave and enter their regions.

In Catalonia some resorts, including, Baqueira Beret remain open, but in neighbouring Aragon the resort of Formigal has closed for the winter.

With strict travel restrictions it was not possible to make it economically viable.

“We would never have imagined living a winter like this without you, but we will have to resign and wait for the next one to step back in the snow, to enjoy it all together, to live this passion that unites us,” said Formigal in a statement.

“The advanced state of the ski season and mobility restrictions still in effect over the next few weeks make the seasons open not economically viable. We will continue to work to improve our facilities and to return stronger next year.”

Movement is allowed in and out of Granada where the resort of Sierra Nevada is and it remains open.

The warm temperatures though have taken their toll on the slopes.

Spain currently has 117 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Scandinavia

Finland

The ski resorts in Finland remain open with Covid-19 rules in place.

Finland currently has 71 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Norway

Tighter restrictions have been announced in the capital, Oslo.

On Sunday it announced mass testing of high school pupils and the closure of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Outdoor events will be prohibited and people are being advised to avoid private gatherings and visits to other people’s homes.

Norway 551 new cases on Friday with 231 on Oslo.  It is the highest number since mid-January.

The authorities decided to act swiftly – as they have done throughout the pandemic.

The new measures come into force from midnight on Tuesday 2nd March and will last until Monday 15th March.

Ski resorts remain open.

See this earlier PlanetSKI story as we looked at how Norway has handled the pandemic with great success in keeping cases and deaths very low.

Skiing in Norway: A Covid-19 Success Story

Norway currently has 45 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Sweden

The ski resorts remain open but cases are growing and the government has new coronavirus powers and has tightened its recommendations.

Current national guidelines are asking people to wear face masks on public transport in rush hour – several regions are now recommending that they are worn outside the rush hour to.

There is a ban on alcohol sales after 20:00, and in restaurants a maximum of four people can sit at a table.

No more than eight people are allowed at public gatherings or events.

Further restrictions, including the shutting down of some businesses, are now actively being considered.

From Monday March 1st anyone found guilty of theft through breaking into someone’s house should be sent to jail for at least one year, and no more than six years.

Sweden currently has 252 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

UK

Scotland

The 5 ski areas remain closed and there are strict travel restrictions in place.

Locals are allowed to ski tour or go cross country skiing within the limitation on movements and group gatherings.

England

The indoor and outdoor slopes remain closed.

As restrictions ease the outdoor slopes are expected to open on March 29th with the indoor ones planning their opening for April 12th.

The Snow Centre

The Snow Centre. Image c/o The Snow Centre.

Holidays abroad remain illegal though England has released details out a pathway out of lockdown.

If all criteria are meet then much could be back to normal by June 21st.

The UK currently has 91 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Despite this ski season being a write off we are detecting significant interest at PlanetSKI in next winter with the roll out of the vaccines, talk of testing and vaccine passports + some good deals.

See here for further details.

The rules and regulations change on a constant and daily basis so do check details. This report is accurate to the best of our knowledge at time of posting.

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