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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 21st March

Quantas Boss Says International Travellers Will Need Vaccine

The head of Australian airline Qantas, Alan Joyce, has told the BBC that “governments are going to insist” on vaccines.

Coronavirus vaccines are seen as crucial to reviving the airline industry.

It saw passenger numbers fall 75.6% last year.

Mr Joyce said even if governments didn’t then the airline should enforce its own policy.

“We have a duty of care to our passengers and to our crew, to say that everybody in that aircraft needs to be safe,” he said.

“The vast majority of our customers think this is a great idea – 90% of people that we’ve surveyed think it should be a requirement for people to be vaccinated to travel internationally.”

See here for this earlier story on PlanetSKI:

Austria Set to Introduce Vaccine Passport Next Month

The card will be for vaccinated people as well as those who have recovered from the virus and who have tested negative.

It is hoped it will help re-start tourism but much depends on whether international tourist will be allowed to visit. Austria has rising levels of Covid-19, with only 9% of the country vaccinated.

The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the passport.

Few details have been released but it is thought to be similar to the so-called ‘Green Card’ issued in Israel.

“We don’t want to wait for implementation at European level,” said Chancellor Kurz this week.

An EU immunity passport is expected to cover travel only and will not be rolled out until June or July at the earliest.

In Austria it is also expected to allow people to attend bars/restaurants, events and fitness centres.

The Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, is overseeing the project and his department has already started work on the legal preparations.

The tourism industry has welcomed the move with the Austria Tourism Minister, Elisabeth Köstinger, saying the plan would allow Austrians to head abroad and people to visit Austria again.

See here for our full story:

Austria/Italy border

Austria/Italy border. Image © PlanetSKI

Norway PM Admits Breaking Covid-19 Rules for Her Birthday Celebrations

Police have launched an investigation into Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s birthday celebrations in the ski resort of Geilo.

By her own admittance they breached the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

She was celebrating her 60th birthday in Geilo with her family last February.

Thirteen members of the prime minister’s family and entourage ate a restaurant in Geilo on Friday the February 25th.

Rules at the time said no more than 10 people could gather for a private event at a restaurant.

Erna Solberg was not present at the meal that evening as she was having an eye check-up in Oslo.

The next evening she joined the group as was present as 14 people ate sushi in an apartment she had rented.

“I who every single day stand and tell people about infection control should have known the rules better. But the truth is that I did not check the rules thoroughly and did not realise that when a family goes out together and is a party larger than 10, then it is classed as an event.” Solberg told the broadcaster, NRK.

“On the basis of information that has appeared in the press, as well as the Prime Minister’s own statements, the police have decided to initiate an investigation related to a possible violation of infection control regulations,” the South Eastern Police District said in a statement.

See here for our full story:

Saturday 20th March

Airlines UK Says Too Early to Make Call on Summer Tourism to Europe

The trade body for UK-based airlines  said it was “too early” to predict what the Covid situation would look like in 10-weeks’ time.

It said it is working with the government “on a framework for travel that is robust and workable, and can stand the test of time”.

“We have always said any reopening must be risk-based, but also led by the overriding assumption that as the vaccine rollout accelerates both here and abroad, a phased easing of restrictions is achievable.

“We know that universal, restriction-free travel is unlikely from 17 May but under a tiered system, based on risk, international travel can meaningfully restart and build up, with minimal restrictions, in time.”

See here for more:

EasyJet

EasyJet. Image © PlanetSKI

MPI Brokers Remember the City Ski Championships

MPI has put together another ‘blast from the past’ video, and this time it’s a look back at last year’s City Championships in Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley in Italy.

It is another event that will have to wait until next year due to the pandemic.

“We hope this video will put a smile on your face, here’s to a bigger and better City Champs 2022,” said the MPI managing director, Michael Pettifer.

Earlier this month MPI Brokers remembered the Amateur Inter-Club Championships:

“Shortly to follow will be our last video for this season is for the Courmayeur Classic which was held last year in ‘parallel’ with the Champs!” added Michael Pettifer.

Summer Holidays Abroad Cast Into Doubt

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group has said there was a danger travellers could bring back new variants of coronavirus.

He said summer holidays abroad were “extremely unlikely” in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.”

“What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants where the vaccines don’t work as effectively spreading more rapidly.”

It remains illegal for people from England to take a holiday abroad until at least May 17th.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed that foreign travel would “not be achievable before 17th May,” adding that “it may well not be possible for a further period after that”.

Prof Dirk Brockmann, from Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, said Britons should not consider European holidays when lockdown restrictions are eased.

He said that “International travel would allow new variants to distribute themselves.”

See here for more:

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

Friday 19th March

Swiss Olympic Medalist and World Champion Tests Positive

Wendy Holdener is out of the final World Cup alpine ski competition of the season after a positive Covid-19 test.

She who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Swiss coach, Klaus Mayrhofer, has also tested positive for the virus.

“Both are doing well, they’re in isolation and have undergone a PCR test as a follow-up,” said a statement from the Swiss team.

The final World Cup races of the season are taking place in Lenzerheide.

The giant slalom and slalom are to come and Holdener was considered a contender for the podium.

Announcement Expected Today on Swiss Restrictions

The Swiss authorities are to announce today on whether current restrictions will be lifted on March 22nd or stay in place longer.

The decision will include the re-opening of outdoor restaurants and raising the limit for indoor gatherings from five to 10 people.

There is no indication which way the decision will go but Covid-19 cases are on the rise.

It has 107 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

The criteria require that the infection rate over 14 days should fall below 5%, occupancy of the intensive care units (ICU) by coronavirus patients should be below 25% and the R-rate must be below 1.

In Switzerland the infection rate is 5.1% and the R-rate is 1.14.

The occupancy of ICUs by Covid-19 patients is at 17.6%.

Here on PlanetSKI we will let you know the decision when it is announced by the Federal Council.

Ski Resorts Hit as New Lockdown in Parts of France

21 million people in 16 areas of France will be placed under the measures from midnight today.

It includes Paris and other major cities.

Ski lifts remain closed in the French resorts but it had been hoped by the resorts that people would be able to travel to them over the Easter holiday break.

People under the new restrictions are not allowed to travel to other parts of the country unless they have a valid reason.

Those in the affected areas will have to fill out a form to explain why they have left their homes.

France has recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours.

It has 273 confirmed cases of covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

People will be allowed to exercise outdoors within 6 miles of their home.

See here for more:

Swedes Urged to Follow Rules & Recommendations

The Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, has urged people to avoid crowds, only meet people from their closest circle and to keep following Sweden’s coronavirus rules and recommendations.

He said the Covid-19 “marathon” wasn’t over yet and the virus doesn’t take a break during public holiday weekends.

People should be mindful about avoiding activities that could cause an increase in infection, he said.

Ski resorts remain open in the country.

The head of the Swedish Public Health Agency, Johan Carlson, urged people to “socialise safely” if they chose to travel to meet others.

Sweden currently has 292 confirmed cases of the virus per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period, one of the highest rates inn Europe.

It has seen more 13,000 deaths in a population of 10m.

Its Scandinavian neighbours of Finland and Norway, with populations of aroud 5m, have seen 804 and 648 deaths respectively.

Cases are climbing across Scandinavia.

Sweden has never had a lockdown, but has toughened its approach in recent months.

Shops and gyms must limit numbers to make at least 10m of space available per customer.

There’s a rule-of-four in restaurants and bars, reduced to one person per table in cafes inside shopping malls and large retail stores.

Thursday 18th March

Some Ski Resorts in Bulgaria Set to Close as Country Heads to Third Lockdown

The Balkan country has reported more than 4,000 new cases today and has seen a 40% rise in cases over the past week.

It has 258 confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Last week it was 146.

Its health system is now under severe strain

Schools, restaurants and shopping centres will close for 10 days from Monday.

With a population of 7m just over 350,000 Bulgarians have been vaccinated with a first dose so far – it has the worst inoculation record in the EU.

More than 11,700 have died of the virus since the pandemic broke out.

Eastern Europe is seeing a surge.

Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have some of the highest death rates per head of population in the world.

Day of Remembrance in Italy

Italy is holding its a national day of remembrance for the victims of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, laid a wreath at the cemetery in the northern city of Bergamo in honour of more than 103,000 Italians who have died from the virus.

Flags are being flown at half mast around the country and a minute’s silence has been observed.

More than half the country is now back in lockdown as cases rise again.

Iceland Opens Door to All Vaccinated Tourists

From today, 18th March, everyone who can provide proof of a certified vaccination will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to PCR testing and quarantine.

Visitors who can provide valid evidence of prior infection are also exempt from border measures.

This exemption will apply to citizens outside the EU and Schengen area, including the UK and USA.

Until now, exemptions have only applied to those presenting certificates from the EU/EEA Area.

“Our experience and data so far indicate very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection,” said Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Thórólfur Gudnason.

“When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of the location where the jab is administered.”

Iceland has one of the lowest rates of Covid -19 with 3.6 confirmed cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period.

“We are excited to safely reopen our borders to fully vaccinated citizens, as well as those who are no longer susceptible to the virus,” says Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, Head of Visit Iceland.

“Tourism is a very valuable industry for Iceland, as it contributes to our economy and culture.”

Wednesday 17th March

Poland Introduces Partial Lockdown

The Polish government is introducing a three-week partial lockdown to try to slow down an increase in coronavirus infections.

Ski resorts are set to close.

From Saturday 20th March, hotels, shopping centres, cultural and sporting facilities will be closed across the country.

People will be asked to work from home where possible.

On Wednesday Poland saw its biggest number of new cases in four months.

The number of patients on ventilators is higher than at any time during the pandemic.

Poland has 291 cases per 100,000 of population over the past 7-days.

Last week it was 177.

Health ministry officials are attributing the spike to the rising number of UK variant infections, which account for about 39% of the total.

An additional 2,500 hospital beds are being brought on stream, many in 22 temporary hospitals that were created during the second wave in the autumn.

Norway Sees Highest Covid-19 Levels as Easter Skiing Approaches

The Norwegian government has outlined its Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to head to cabins in the mountains.

Norway’s current rate of infection is now 97 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

“The infection situation in Norway is unstable, and in recent weeks the infection numbers have risen. We are concerned about the consequences if many travel and meet other people at Easter,” said the Health Minister, Bent Høie.

During the pandemic the country is judged to have done well in dealing with Covid-19 with just 81,305 cases and 640 deaths.

The short hours of daylight are over and it is one of the most popular times for skiing.

Many stay in second-home cabins.

See here for our full story:

Tuesday 16th March

US Ski Resort to Limit Lift Ticket Sales for Next Season After Covid-19 Lessons

Arapahoe Basin in Colorado will limit the number of lift tickets sold each day and cap its number of season passes next winter to 10% fewer than were sold for the 2020-21 season.

“COVID forced us to learn in a few months what probably would have taken us five years to learn otherwise,” said the A-Basin Chief Operating Officer, Alan Henceroth.

He described the decision as the next “major step to preserve the culture and vibe” of Summit County’s oldest ski area.

The changes come as part of A-Basin’s concerted strategy in recent years to reduce the number of skiers and riders on the hill, namely on weekends and holidays.

Henceroth said the experience over the past year operating the ski area with number limitations in an attempt to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 helped them “learn so much.”

As a result, the ski area will pursue a “comfortable level” of skiers and riders each day.

“By knowing how many people to expect each day, we can do a better job running the place,” Henceroth said.

A-Basin has been a member of the Ikon Pass for the past two seasons after leaving the Epic Pass “pass partnership” with Vail Resorts at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Arapahoe Basin remains one of our favourite resorts in Colorado – we last visited in 2017.

US ski road trip

US ski road trip. Image © PlanetSKI

Covid-19 Continues to Surge in Ski Nations of Eastern Europe

Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have some of the highest death rates per head of population in the world.

The spike in infection in central and eastern Europe is showing no signs of falling.

In Poland new infections have hit levels not seen since the second wave peaked in November.

Shopping centres, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities have been or are being closed in the four worst hit provinces.

Throughout Poland, schools are mostly closed, and restaurants and cafes open only for take away service.

Face masks must be worn in public spaces.

Ski resorts remain open.

Poland has 291 cases per 100,000 of population over the past 7-days.

Last week it was 177.

Health ministry officials are attributing the spike to the rising number of UK variant infections, which account for about 39% of the total.

An additional 2,500 hospital beds are being brought on stream, many in 22 temporary hospitals that were created during the second wave in the autumn.

In the Czech Republic the number of new cases are amongst the worst in Europe – 720 cases per 100,000.

In Slovakia it is 258.

The main Slovakian ski 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.

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe, proud of their health record during the first Covid wave last Spring, are now suffering badly.

Bulgaria has 258 cases per 100,000 of population – last week it was 146.

Monday 15th March

Italy Sees Tighter Restrictions from Today + Lockdown Over Easter

There are strict new measures in all the main ski regions except one from Monday.

Plus the whole country goes into a new national lockdown from 3rd April to 5th April over the Easter weekend.

Any hopes for some ski resorts to open at the end of the season remains a distant dream.

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

More than half the country will be in a ‘red zone’ including the ski regions of Lombardy, Trentino, Sud Tirol, Piedmont and Venito in the Alps and the Dolomites.

All regions currently classed as ‘yellow’ zones under Italy’s tier system will move to ‘orange’ from Monday.

That means the ski region of the Aosta Valley will move from yellow to orange.

“More than a year after the start of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of infections,” said the Prime Minister, Mario Draghi.

“The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.

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:

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

March 8th: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding

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

February 22nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing & snowboarding

February 15th: Coronavirus impact on skiing & snowboarding

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

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