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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 14th March

More Airlines Offering Vaccine Status on an App

British Airways is the latest and follows Ryan Air, plus others.

Will this mean summer travel from the UK is more likely to the mountains and other destinations?

British Airways is planning to allow people to register their vaccination status on its smart phone app.

Under the plans, people who have had both jabs will be able to register their status.

The airline’s chief executive, Sean Doyle, hailed the UK’s “great progress” in tackling the pandemic.

Ryanair has unveiled details a new Covid-19 Travel Wallet which is integrated within the Ryanair app.

It seems EU Governments won’t have a Europe-wide vaccine passport in place for this summer so airlines are creating their own proof of a person’s status that may meet the requirements of individual countries and flying rules.

It comes amid heated debate about the possibility that “vaccine passports” could become a feature of foreign travel.

Read our full story here:

The Italian Alps

The Italian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

2020 Was Record Year for Rescues in Swiss Mountains

Despite the pandemic and its restrictions, the Swiss Alpine Club said that 3,471 people had to be assisted after getting into difficulties in the Alps and the Jura mountain ranges.

Half were hikers and the rest were doing sports including ski touring, mountain biking, base jumping, or paragliding.

SAC did say that last year’s lockdown in Spring led to a decrease in accidents specifically related to ski touring.

1,172 were rescued unharmed or with minor injuries.

180 people died.

Foreigners average 40% of the people needing assistance, but last year it was 27% – likely caused by less foreigners in the country due to travel restrictions.

See here for more:

2020 Was Record Year for Rescues in Swiss Mountains

Verbier avalanche

Verbier avalanche. Image c/o Valais Cantonal Police

Saturday 13th March

Where to Ski Next Winter: Norway

In our occassional series we are looking at areas to ski next winter that offer something a little bit different.

Once the pandemic is brought under control perhaps it’s the time to try skiing and boarding away from the normal destinations – somewhere you may not have been before.

Norway is one of our favourites – the Scandinavian country is most certainly not the Alps, but that’s good.

We can imagine the comments from the doubters.

  • There are no real mountains, they’re hills.
  • It’s not the place to go for downhill skiing.
  • It’s cold and dark.
  • It’s expensive.

Not all of the above are true and even if they are, they should be considered against the advantages.

  • You can ski in many Norwegian resorts from November to May.
  • The snow conditions are fabulous thanks to its latitude.
  • The slopes are quiet.
  • It offers a unique and genuine ‘winter experience’.

See here for our look at the resorts of Beitostolen Geilo, Myrkdalen, Norefjell, Kvitfjell, Hafjell, Voss and Narvik + a look back at some of our past visits:

Friday 12th March

Italy Sees Tighter Restrictions and Lockdown Over Easter

Italy will be placed under a new national lockdown from 3rd April to 5th April during the Easter weekend.

It looks highly unlikely any ski resorts will be able to open to the general public this season.

The new restrictions are being reported by the Reuters news agency, though no formal announcement has been made by the Italian government.

From Monday 15th March movement between towns in most of the country will be restricted with restaurants/bars closing.

Several regions, including the ski region of Lombardy in the Alps will join other areas designated as “red zones”.

The government is fighting to control a wave of infection with 248 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Italy reported almost 26,000 new Covid-19 cases and 373 deaths on Thursday.

In the Easter weekend lockdown only essential shops will be allowed to open, and people must stay at home except for work, health or emergency reasons.

See here for our full story:

The Aosta Valley, Italy

The Aosta Valley, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

Italy Expected to Announce New Restrictions Today

The government has been considering the date this week as infections rise.

Up to 12 regions in Italy could be declared “red zones” with severe restrictions imposed from Monday.

Bars and restaurants in those areas are set to be shut and students will return to online learning.

The government may also announce another national lockdown.

We looked at the situation in some detail earlier in the week.

The ski season is all but over with some areas already announcing they will not be opening.

The huge ski area of Super Dolomiti announced it would not be opening this winter.

“One year has passed since that day that the lockdown changed our all lives forever. 10 March 2020 was the day when all the lifts, all the accommodation facilities, huts and shops in our ski destination were shut,” said the Dolomiti Superski region this week.

“And now, one year later, we had to communicate that the winter season 20/21 would not even start. Who would have thought in March of last year that one year later we would still not be able to ski, move freely and that the fight against the pandemic would not yet be over?”

“The situation is still surreal, yet we do not give up and believe in a beautiful summer to live in safety and with ease and therefore we continue our path and with the strength and support of you all and our common passion we will make it.”

2021 Greenfield Festival in Switzerland Cancelled

It has been taking place since 2005 and attracts 25,000+ rock fans.

The music festival  was due to take place near Interlaken, June 3rd to 5th 2021.

The promoter, Eventim Live, has made the decision cancel due to “ongoing uncertainty about infection rates and mutations”.

“2021 was supposed to a summer of reunions, and festival organisers have put a lot of time and work into hygiene concepts to make this possible,” said the CEO of Eventim Live, Frithjof Pils.

However, the “epidemiological situation” and coronavirus restrictions meant “festivals of this magnitude are not yet feasible at present”.

The company organises seven events in Switzerland and Germany.

Past headliners have included the Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, The Prodigy, Motorhead and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

France to Ease Travel Restrictions from the UK

The Decree will be published on Friday and means people can enter France without a ‘compelling reason’.

Six other countries are also included – Australia, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.

Non-essential travel into France was banned on 31st January.

UK citizens arriving in France will still need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result issued less than 72-hours before they travel.

Holiday travel from the UK remains against the law until May 17th at the earliest.

The French Tourism Minister, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, said the decision to ease restrictions was taken because of the improving health situation in the seven countries.

He said that Britain would be included “because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France”.

Thursday 11th March

MPI Brokers Remembers the Amateur Inter-Club Championships

“Today is the 11th March 2021 and who would have believed a year ago that the AICC in Wengen would have been cancelled due to Covid,” said the snowsports insuance specialist MPI Brokers on its web site.

Tonight would have been the opening party of the 13th Amateur inter-Club Championships at The Hotel Falken, Wengen.

“In order to celebrate this prestigious event we have put together a video – ’13 Years of the AICC’ and we hope this blast from the past will lift your spirits, we can’t wait to see you all again next year!” said MPI Brokers.

UK to Introduce Travel Certificate

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the government’s Global Travel Taskforce will introduce a travel certification to allow people to travel abroad.

He told the House of Commons that it could be done by using schemes like the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass or the World Economic Forum’s common pass.

He told MPs he had been speaking to many countries around the world in order to get “travel going again”.

The Global Travel Taskforce report will be published on 12th April.

Innsbruck airport

Easyjet at Innsbruck airport. Image © PlanetSKI

Increase in Covid-19 Cases in Austria Could End Restaurant Opening Plans

Currently there are plans to open outdoor restaurants spaces across Austria from March 27th.

The state of Voralberg is set to see its restaurants open next week, March 15th, in a trial run.

However there is media speculation that plans could be put on hold.

The number of intensive care beds taken up by coronavirus cases has increased by 20% in the past week.

The Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, has said he is “alarmed” by the latest figures.

The opening will be based on the following requirements:

  • A recent negative test result for coronavirus (not older than 48 hours).
  • Customers wearing FFP2 masks when not seated,
  • Waiters and waitresses wearing FFP2 masks.
  • Only two households per table.
  • A closing time of 20:00
  • Distance between each table of 1.5m
Schladming, Austria

Schladming, Austria. Image c/o PlanetSKI.

Wednesday 10th March

Government Says It Is Too Early to Book An Overseas Summer Holiday

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps,  says there are many questions to answer about “how safe it will be in June to travel”.

He was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme this morning.

“We have said it will remain illegal to travel internationally until at least 17 May – that’s an at-the-earliest date.”

Greece, Cyprus and Portugal are among the countries keen to welcome UK visitors from May.

He says people should look towards 12 April, when he will publish a global travel taskforce report, and says the government is weighing up the UK and other countries’ vaccination rollout.

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

Contactless Chalets – the shape of things to come?

Ski France is offering 50 so-called ‘Contactless Chalets’ across some of the major resorts in France.

With Covid-19 restrictions and Brexit rules on employing British staff it is a new product on the market.

Guests arrive at their Ski France chalet and find food in the fridge, cool beer or chilled wine ready to drink, firewood stacked and beds made.

There will be a selection of fresh ingredients to cook with, easy recipes to follow and dishes prepared by a local delicatessen.

Skis or snowboards will be reserved at the local hire shop and lift passes booked.

Halfway through the week, when the guests are out skiing, the backstage chalet crew will clean the accommodation from top to bottom, replace towels and re-stock the fridge and cupboards.

Staff will be at the end of the phone whenever needed, but there will be no contact unless necessary or wished for.

Resorts on offer are Val d’Isère, Tignes, Méribel, Courchevel, La Tania, Les Menuires, La Plagne and Alpe d’Huez.

See here for our full story with further details:

Cases Continue to Climb in Poland

The country reported 17,260 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest since 22nd November.

The third wave to hit the country is gathering momentum and health officials are concerned about the increase in new cases and the number of people hospitalised.

Ski resorts remain open with the main resort of Zakopane scheduled to close on 28th March.

Shopping centres, hotels, cinemas and sporting facilities have been closed in the two northern provinces with the highest rate of new cases.

Poland has reported a total of 1,828,313 cases and 45,997 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

The Czech Republic has had to start sending patients to Poland for treatment, because its facilities are struggling to cope as cases surge.

It has 797 new cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period – easily the highest number in Europe.

Poland has 232 cases per 100,000 people.

Italy May Be Heading to Another National Lockdown

It would likely mean the end of any chance of ski resorts opening this Spring.

Some resorts have already called it a day with new restrictions introduced this week as cases surge.

On Monday the ski resorts in the region of Veneto joined those in Lombardy and Piedmont in the the so-called “Orange Level’.

The huge ski area of Super Dolomite announced it would not be opening this winter.

This week Italy passed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths since the pandemic started over a year ago.

It is currently seeing 237 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Last week it was 192.

In Italy hospital intensive care units are again coming under pressure and the government is now considering increased nationwide restrictions, from extending the current evening curfew to a national lockdown.

“With these numbers we need stricter measures,” said the Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio.

“There is no alternative to stricter measures.”

See here for our full story:

Tuesday 9th March

Swiss Ski Resort Cheats the Eating Ban on Terraces

The closure of restaurant terraces is demanded by the Swiss Federal Council as part of coronavirus measures.

Large steps have been into the snow for people to sit on outside the Brüggerstuba restaurant in Arosa in Graubunden.

Photos have been posted on social media by the resort’s director of tourism, Pascal Jenny.

“In Arosa, we are always looking for solutions, even when the authorities’ decisions are incomprehensible”, enthuses Pascal Jenny on his Facebook page.

“Guests feel safe & say thank you,” he added.

The restaurant has also put boxes in the snow to act as table and chairs.

The resort’s ski area remains open until April 11th.

Quarantine Extended from 10 to 14 Days in Some Austrian Ski States

 The  states of Salzburg, Syria, Carinthia along with Vienna, Burgenland, plus Lower and Upper Austria are included in the new measure.

It comes as variants viruses spread, case numbers go up and more people are treated in intensive care.

In Burgenland 88% of new cases are the British variant.

In Austria 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

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

Will a Vaccine Certificate be Needed for Summer in the Mountains?

It is becoming more likely as some beach destination countries are introducing them and some mountain ones are discussing it.

Recent research shows the majority of British travellers are happy to use them, many though oppose the idea.
It remains illegal for people in England to go abroad for a holiday until at least May 17th.

If you are planning a trip to Austria and Switzerland this summer when conditions allow, both countries have expressed an interest in some form of vaccine passport.

Spain too is in support of the idea, thus giving access to the Pyrenees.

France and Germany have expressed reservations about some aspects of a vaccine passport.

After a poor, or non-existent, winter season for ski resorts across Europe it is hoped that summer will begin to see some sort of normality return.

Read our full story here:

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

Monday 8th March

Situation in Ski Nations in Europe

Region of Veneto in Italy Moves into ‘Orange Zone’ Today

It has led the Dolomiti Superski region to cancel operations for this winter.

It contains 12 resorts with 1,250kms of slopes.

The resorts include Cortina, Arabba and Val Gardena – some may open on an individual basis in the spring but the whole ski area will not.

The ski areas cannot open their lifts until April 6th at the earliest – that is after Easter 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:

Swiss Demo Against Covid-19 Restrictions

Around 4,000 people marched in the town of Chur in the canton of Graubunden at the weekend.

It is near the ski resorts of Davos, Klosters, Laax and Arosa/Lenzerheide.

Many wore white protective clothing and carried banners.

One grievance was the continuing closure of bars and restaurants.

The demonstration is the latest in series of public protests across the country in the past few months.

The crowd was addressed by a local politician from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.

Last week Switzerland eased some measures:

In France the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has warned the coming weeks will be crucial in the battle to try to control coronavirus.

New cases in France have risen steadily since the last national lockdown in November, with more than 23,000 cases reported on Saturday.

The government’s target remains 5,000 per day.

Ski lifts remain closed and any new lockdown would mean ski resorts are out of bounds to most.

In Poland the number of new cases since last Monday has gone up by 29%.

Health officials have expressed worry about the acceleration of both new cases and the number of occupied beds in hospitals.

Last week, the number of new daily cases rose to levels not seen since November.

The number of people admitted to hospital has gone up by 16% from a week ago.

Shopping centres, hotels, cinemas and sporting facilities are being closed in the two northern provinces with the highest rate of new cases.

Germany is easing its lockdown restrictions, with five people from two households allowed to meet from today.

Museums and galleries are also reopening.

In Norway the Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, has warned that the country is likely to require stronger coronavirus measures following a rise in cases.

Non-essential shops and some schools are already closed in Oslo – restaurants are only allowed to offer a takeaway service.

Check out the rolling reports on PlanetSKI for the last few weeks:

March 1st: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding

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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