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Covid-19 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

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Sunday 7th March

Survey Reveals Majority of UK Travellers Happy to Share Health Information

Research by Skyscanner and OnePoll found that 59% of people said they would carry health information in a digital pass if they needed to in order to travel.

24% said they would do so to avoid travel quarantine restrictions.

8% said they would not carry digital health information.

“With vaccine roll outs and news of a roadmap out of lockdown renewing international travel hopes, the question now is how we return to travel safely, once it’s possible to do so again,” said Hugh Aitken from Skyscanner.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, travellers have shown they are willing to react and adapt to changing requirements in order to be able to travel safely.”

Innsbruck airport

Innsbruck airport

Saturday 6th March

More Ski Resorts in Italy Call It A Day

The prospect of opening this season is over for most though some still hold out some hope.

The government has imposed tighter restrictions in some ski areas as cases of Covid-19 rise.

The region of Veneto moves into ‘Orange Zone’ on Monday 8th March as the government announced new restrictions.

A number of ski resorts including many in the Dolomites can now not open their lifts until April 6th at the earliest – that is Easter Sunday so the season is effectively over.

Some may hope for some late season skiing and snowboarding, but it is perhaps more hope than reality.

“We have to inform you that unfortunately the lifts of Dolomiti Superski will not open this winter season,” said a statement from one of the largest ski areas in Italy.

See here for our full story:

More Ski Resorts in Italy Call It A Day

Dolomiti Superski Area

Dolomiti Superski Area

Friday 5th March

Poland Introduces New Measures as Covid-19 Cases Surge

It relaxed restrictions in the middle of February hoping the virus was coming under control.

20,000 people visited the ski resort of Zacopane with some breaking social distancing rules and other measures.

Zakopane, Poland

Zakopane, Poland

Now hotels, shopping centres, cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and sports centres must shut in the northern province of Pomerania.

The restrictions will be introduced from 13th March.

Last weekend the same restrictions were enforced in the north eastern province of Warmia-Masuria.

Further Claims of Ski Holiday Sales Surge for Next Winter

“We are pleased to see that people are already booking for winter 21/22,” said Elena Protopopow from the Tirol Tourist Board.

“The holiday they have missed this winter will definitely be made up for next year.

“It is difficult to say whether and which measures will still be in place at this time. That is why we have to look at the situation on an ongoing basis.”

“Therefore, we remain optimistic for the next winter season. In any case, the demand for holidays in Tirol proves that exercise in nature and holidays in the mountains are still highly attractive.

“As soon as the general conditions – such as the lifting of lockdowns, the decline in the number of infections and the withdrawal of travel warnings – make uncomplicated travel possible, guests will come again.”

She made her comment in an article on PlanetSKI as we reported on the rise in bookings.

See here for our full story:

FFP2 mask on the ski slopes of Austria

Elena Protopopow currently skiing in the Tirol

Thursday 4th March

Crystal Ski Holidays Says Next Season Could be a Bumper One

The UK’s largest ski operator details growing interest and which resorts are proving to be most popular for the season of 2021/22.

It says sales are surging as optimism returns.

Will it last?

The most popular destinations are France, Austria and Italy with dates throughout the season selling stronger than previous years.

Val Thorens, Obergurgl and Sauze d’Oulx are the top selling resorts for Crystal.

It also says bookings for Lapland this December are also extremely strong – over 300% up compared to 2019.

February half term has sold well sold for Crystal with families “denied their time on the slopes this year booking to get back to the mountains”.

However here at PlanetSKI we also advise some caution as there may well be some travel restrictions in place – local or widespread – as variants of the virus occur.

No respected scientist is saying coronavirus will be gone, rather it is hoped it will have been brought under control by next winter.

In resort it may look different at apres ski and elsewhere.

It is too early to make any firm predictions, but things are unlikely to be back to normal with the use of vaccine passports and testing requirements.

See here for our full story:

Crystal Ski Holidays

Crystal Ski Holidays

Surge in Covid-19 Cases in Parts of Europe

A ‘promising’ six-week decline in Covid cases in Europe has been disrupted by a rise in infections said the World Health Organisation.

“We are seeing a resurgence in Central and Eastern Europe. New cases are also on the rise in several Western European countries where rates were already high,” said Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe.

Some of the ski nations seeing the biggest surges are in Central and Eastern Europe in particular the Czech Republic.

Slovenia and Slovakia are also seeing rises.

The Czech Republic has the highest number of new cases in Europe at 769 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Slovakia has seen 292 and Slovenia 253.

In Poland it is 177, and in Bulgaria it is 146.

For details of which countries have closed their ski resorts and which ones are open see this PlanetSKI round-up of the situation in Europe.

European countries need to expand supply and access to vaccines according the World Health Organisation.

Current skiing in Slovenia

Current skiing in Slovenia

BA Offers Antigen Testing Kit to Passengers

The rapid test kits can be ordered to any UK address and people can take the kits with them abroad, in preparation for their return journey to the UK.

The simple test is remotely administered by a professional health advisor over a scheduled video call.

The health advisor will guide the customer through the procedure of taking a nose and throat swab and processing the sample.

Verified results are available after 20 minutes, and the customer can download a ‘fit to fly’ certificate if the test is negative.

The test kits ae from from Government-approved Covid-19 testing provider, Qured, and are offered to BA customers at a price of £33.

“As we look forward and prepare for a safe return to travel, we remain focused on finding and offering the most convenient and affordable testing options for our customers,” said the CEO of British Airways, Sean Doyle.

“Our teams were pleased to discover Qured, a unique new option which removes uncertainty and unnecessary expense for customers who may be concerned about sourcing a pre-departure test while away from home.”

British Airways

British Airways

Ischgl Cancels the Rest of Its Ski Season

The Austrian resort says the continuing pandemic and it shared slopes with Switzerland mean it cannot see a way to open the season within all the rules.

The resort was seen as a super-spreader of the virus a year ago.

“We’ve been dreading this moment for a long time but the final decision has been made: For the first time in the history of the Ischgl ski resort, we won’t been seeing a single day of skiing in the winter season,” said the resort on social media.

“It wasn’t an easy decision and we know we have kept you waiting, mostly because we didn’t want to give up hope that a different skiing could be possible.”

See here for the full details:

Ischgl, the Tirol, Austria

Ischgl, the Tirol, Austria

Wednesday 3rd March

Ryanair Predicts Falling Fares this Winter and Return to Profit by 2023

The chief executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary has been giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee.

He said fares will be low over the next 12 months to get people flying again.

He is hopeful of flying at 60% to 70% of capacity this summer with increasing levels over next winter.

He told MPs the pandemic has been the most “devastating event” in 100 years of commercial flying.

Ryanair went from 150m passengers a year to 27m.

He was sharply critical of the lack of government support for businesses and workers and described support for airlines as “lamentable”.

Ryanair

Ryanair

Many in the aviation industry are angry that it was not even mentioned during today’s budget.

The  industry will be pleased that furlough and airport business rates relief is continuing but there was  no further sector specific support.

The BBC reports that Heathrow said the Chancellor “continues to ignore the UK’s aviation sector” and that today was a ‘missed opportunity to ensure the sector can play a key role in the country’s economic recovery’.

While British Airline Pilots Association said it was ‘absolutely dismayed’ that aviation was not included.

Switzerland’s Image Abroad Changed by Handling of Pandemic

Switzerland has a reputation for being well-organised and efficient.

The head of the country’s branding agency says that has changed with the second spike that saw a sharp increase in cases and deaths.

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland

Coronavirus cases in Switzerland

Nicolas Bideau, director of Presence Switzerland, said the authorities had been very good in dealing with the first wave.

“The marks of the model student plummeted” when it was tested by the second wave of the pandemic, said Bideau.

He was speaking to Le Nouvelliste newspaper.

Switzerland has faced some international criticism for allowing ski resorts to remain open.

“I think that we are mostly criticised in neighbouring countries that are in economic competition,” said Bideau. “If you look worldwide, the criticism has been weak.”

“Like all other countries we have had our imperfections, our moments of tension,” he said, adding that Switzerland is well equipped to overcome the criticism of its reputation.

Cases now are among the lowest in Europe at 83 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Sweden Heading Towards Third Wave

The country’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, says hospital cases are rising and he is concerned about the spread of the UK variant of coronavirus.

Sweden has 253 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

It has seen 12,826 deaths in a population of 10m and has far higher fatality rates than its Scandinavian neighbours of Finland (750) and Norway (623) that have populations of 5m.

Currently Norway is seeing 45 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period and the figure for Finland stands at 71.

Sweden has fared no better economically during the pandemic.

Sweden has never gone into lockdown, though much tighter recommendations and rules are now in place.

These are expected to be tightened due to the new predictions and worries.

Its ski resorts remain open despite the high number of cases.

Here is a web camera image from the main resort of Are showing an orderly queuing system:

Are, Sweden

Are, Sweden

Bars and restaurants have to close early and there is a limit on organised public gatherings to a maximum of eight people.

Anders Tegnell is now proposing that from 6th March a maximum of 500 people should be allowed inside shopping malls and large stores, a move that is expected to be approved by the government.

On PlanetSKI we have a full summary of the situation in the ski nations of Europe, including Sweden and other Scandinavian countries:

Sweden refused to shut its ski resort last March as the virus first spread through Europe.

Are, Sweden

Are, Sweden

Tuesday 2nd March

EU Leaders Divided Over Vaccine Passports

Some want a Europe-wide approach while others prefer to go it along with their own certificates.

Discussions are continuing as the summer approaches.

The outcome will likely have a significant impact on next winter with coronavirus expected to remain a threat.

In Greece tourism contributes 25% of its GDP and the government is leading the call for an EU-wide vaccine certificate.

Of the ski nations Austria, Bulgaria and Switzerland are keen too.

Sweden and Finland are working on plans for a joint digital passport.

France is less keen and Germany also has reservations.

“First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious,” the German Chancellor Angela told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

It is an issue we have recently looked at on PlanetSKI:

Austria border

World Cup Snowboard Slopestyle Event Moved from Czech Republic as Covid-19 Cases Soar

The final event of the season has been relocated to Swiss resort Corvatsch and will take place on March 27th and 28th.

“We are delighted that we have received the FIS contract to take over the cancelled slopestyle World Cup final originally scheduled for the Czech Republic,” said Swiss-Ski director of Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Telemark Sacha Giger.

“Together with the local organising committee we have done everything we can to offer the athletes a platform.

“Thanks to the excellent conditions provided by the Corvatsch team and the park crew.”

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 Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, says his country may use Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine without approval from the EU drugs agency.

International Ski Federation

International Ski Federation

Is Covid-19 Ending the Swiss Love Affair With Cash?

A new survey seems to suggest so.

The financial services web site, Moneyland.ch,  says cash is no longer people’s favourite method of payment.

73% cited debit cards, followed by credit cards at 71%.

Cash came only in third place, with 67% of those questioned saying they could not do without it.

This compares with 78% in the previous survey in 2020.

The survey was conducted in January among 1,500 residents across German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland.

Cash was king

Cash was king

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.

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 virus.

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:

St Anton, the Tirol, Austria

St Anton, the Tirol, Austria

Monday 1st March

7-Hour Queues to Get Through Border Controls at Heathrow

Coronavirus rules and inadequate staffing levels are causing the problems according to a union for border control workers.

Heathrow Airport has asked the government for more staff to enable it to cope.

The queues come with passenger levels at a fraction of what they would normally be.

A 26-year-old woman coming back from Austria told the BBC she began queuing to go through border control at 18:30 on Sunday evening, but did not get through until 01:30 on Monday.

“I felt really unsafe,” she said.

“It was really disorganised. One mother had to feed her baby on the floor. It’s not humane.”

“The staff didn’t offer any chairs, there was no social distancing. Only about three or four people were checking documents.”

Another passenger described a mother having to feed her baby on the floor, saying conditions were “not humane”.

See here for the full story on the BBC.

UK to Discuss Vaccine Passports with EU 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman says UK officials will discuss the European Union’s plans for a coronavirus passport with its  counterparts in Brussels.

The BBC reports that Downing Street says the discussions will not pre-empt the outcome of the UK Government’s review on the issue of vaccine passports.

The European Commission has set out plans for a “digital green pass” to record vaccination status and test results.

We have been looking at the question of vaccine passports and how they might affect our plans for skiing next season:

Italian border

Curfew in France to Continue for Another 4 to 6 Weeks

The French President has said there will be no immediate change to the 6pm to 6am curfew.

Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that 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.

France and Germany Increase Border Checks

The two countries say they will tighten controls at the border this week following concern at the increase in cases of variants of the virus in France’s Moselle region.

Travel between France and Germany is permitted but France requires a negative Covid test and a declaration of being symptom free.

There are some exceptions to the rule but these are now more limited than they were.

Both countries have introduced new testing requirements for more groups of travellers and say increased checks will be carried out at  road, rail and air borders to ensure compliance.

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 counter productive.

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

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Checkout the rolling reports on PlanetSKI for the last few weeks:

February 22nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing & snowboarding

February 15th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

February 8th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

February 1st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

And here for our special section on the pandemic’s impact on snowsports:

PlanetSKI’s Coronavirus Section

 

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