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Covid-19 Impact on Skiing and 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…

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Image © PlanetSKI

Updates to Follow…

Saturday 27th March

Booster Jab in the Autumn Ahead of Next Winter

The Vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has said the over-70s are likely to be offered a booster jab from September, to defend against new coronavirus variants.

It would then be rolled out to other sections of the population as winter approached.

Given the expected rise in coronavirus cases in the autumn and variants it bodes well for next winter.

“In the shorter term, we are worried about new variants, but if we can keep these out for a longer period of time – enough time for these boosters to be developed – then that should hopefully protect us as we go into the winter,” said Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the government.

GP Dr Sarah Jarvis has told the BBC it is “highly likely that we will be having boosters of the Covid vaccine” in the near future.

“Most people will get some immunity [from the first vaccine], but they will need to have a booster just to top it up – and to protect against new variants.”

“We don’t yet know how long immunity from the vaccine lasts… and we don’t know how many variants there will be down the line,” she told BBC Breakfast

“Certainly I think two vaccines per year – one for flu and one for Covid – is likely to be the norm for some time.”

The unveiling of the booster plan comes amid concern over a third wave of coronavirus currently sweeping across much of mainland Europe, where the vaccine rollout has happened at a slower pace than in the UK.

Travel restrictions to holiday in Europe are in place at least until May 17th and many think there will be some extensions given the high level of cases in many parts of Europe.

The key to travel abroad now seems to be more about the take up of vaccinations in Europe to limit the spread of Covid-19.

It is unlikely the UK government will allow widespread foreign travel due to the risks of bringing the virus back to the UK.

France, the most popular nation for British skiers and snowboarders,  is one of the most vaccine-sceptical nations in the world.

The BBC’s specialist disinformation reporter, Marianna Spring, has been looking into the vaccine misinformation battle that is currently raging in France.

See here for the full article.

Friday 26th March

Update on Situation in Ski Nations of Europe

Cases are rising in many ski areas and countries, with restrictions changing as the Easter holiday period is about to get underway.

Check out all the latest developments as we look at western and eastern Europe + Scandinavia:

Facemask in France

Facemask in France

Thursday 25th March

Tighter Restrictions in Parts of Austria

The eastern states of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland will re-enter a strict coronavirus lockdown on April 1st.

It follows rising cases in the states with a record number of people in hospital in Vienna.

What may the impact be elsewhere in Austria?

It follows rising cases in the states with a record number of people in hospital in Vienna.

Austria is seeing as surge in cases with the greatest impact in the east of the country.

The authorities met until the early hours of the morning on Tuesday to thrash out a response.

These are the new measures being put in place after long discussions this week.

Ski resorts and regions have been impacted by the new rules.

See here for more details:

EasyJet Looks to Vaccine Certificates

The airline’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said he believes vaccine certificates will be “part of the mix” for trips abroad.

He believes that there will have to be a risk-based system in place in Europe to help relax current travel restrictions.

He said he “never thought this would be a straight line” to recovery and that “the underlying demand is there”.

His comments have been reported by the Reuters news agency.

Many airlines are currently supporting, promoting and actively developing apps.

Easyjet at Innsbruck Airport, Austria

Easyjet at Innsbruck. Image © PlanetSKI

Booster Jabs in Autumn Will Be Critical for Next Winter

So says Prof Neil Ferguson who advised the government a year ago and was an early advocate of lockdown measures to supress the spread of Covid-19.

Prof Ferguson says booster jabs in the autumn will be “critical”, adding: “We don’t yet know how long the immunity lasts from the vaccines we’re giving, but natural immunity to coronavirus probably lasts a year or so, so it’s entirely likely we will need to boost immunity.”

“We can’t stop things like the Brazilian and the South African variants forever and they are different immunologically.

“The current vaccines are not as effective against those strains probably, so for that reason as well we want to update vaccines and boost people’s immunity.”

He has said that foreign travel may be one of the later restrictions to be eased.

Wednesday 24th March

Austria Expected To Announce New Measures

It is expected that tighter measures will be introduced in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland.

Officials met until 3am on Tuesday and it is reported there were some heated debates about the measures to be taken.

Coronavirus cases have risen sharply in the east of the country with hospitals and intensive care units now at a critical level.

Austrian media reports that the discussions became heated, with Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig wanting tighter measures.

We will bring you the details later on PlanetSKI.

Norway Announces New Covid-19 Measures as Cases Rise

The restrictions will be in place over Easter when many head to the ski resorts and their cabins in the mountains.

Elsewhere in Europe cases are rising in many countries with further restrictions.

For those going skiing the nationwide rules mean there will be a limit of two guests at private homes and a ban serving alcohol in businesses.

Norway is now seeing a record number of infections and people in hospital with Covid-19.

It now has 123 confirmed cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period.

Five days ago the figure was 112.

Overall it still has a very low count with 89,120 cases and 649 deaths.

The new measures come into effect on Thursday March 25th and will be reviewed on April 12th.

See here for the full details:

Norway

Norway. Image © PlanetSKI

MPI Brokers Remembers the Courmayeur Classic

The event raises money for Snow-Camp, a UK charity engaging with inner-city young people through wintersports.

It was unable to take place this year but the MD for MPI Brokers, Michael Pettifer, says “it does get us even more excited and eager to get back to slopes next year,”

This event is split into 5 challenges, Snowshoe hike, Laser Biathlon, Team Orienteering and lastly the races – Team Slalom and Team Distance Challenge.

All of which are held over two days.

“It has been sad to see this event plus many others cancelled due to the pandemic, especially as the Courmayeur Classic has only been held once in its new format,” said Michael Pettifer.

MPI has recently posted a couple of videos of the events it supports across the winter.

The City Ski Championships:

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

Climbers Head to the Himalayas Despite Pandemic

Nepal is expecting hundreds of foreigners to attempt to climb the highest Himalayan peaks despite the pandemic.

More than 300 foreigners have expressed interest in climbing Mount Everest this spring according to  the Department of Tourism.

Japanese and Canadians teams are already trekking to the Everest base camp.

The  climbers need to test negative for Covid-19 and quarantine in a hotel.

Police Question Norway Prime Minister Over Breaking Covid-19 Rules in Her Ski Resort Birthday Celebrations

They are questioning Erna Solberg after she admitted breaching the country’s coronavirus regulations during her birthday celebrations in the ski resort of Geilo.

“We have started an investigation and part of this involves questioning the prime minister,” police inspector Per Morten Sending told the Reuters news agency.

He said the interrogation had not yet finished, but police aimed to conclude the investigation this week.

A breach of social-distancing rules can be punishable by a fine in Norway.

She was celebrating her 60th birthday in Geilo with her family at the end of last month.

Read more here:

Tuesday 23rd March

£5,000 Fine for People Breaking Foreign Holiday Rules

People in England are not allowed to go on holiday abroad until at least May 17th.

From next week the ban on leaving the UK will become a specific law, backed up by the threat of the fine.

MPs will vote on the legislation on Thursday.

Another surge in Covid cases in Europe combined with the slow rollout of vaccines across Europe, has cast doubt on the resumption of foreign travel.

See here for the full story on PlanetSKI

Travel bookings for early summer have collapsed with shares in easyJet, IAG, Jet2 and TUI declining.

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

More Locals Skiing in Hokkaido Ski Resorts

International visitors to Japan and those not living in the local area are banned due to the pandemic, but ski resorts claim more locals are hitting the slopes.

Skiing is seen as a safe outdoor activity with strict measures in place.

Resorts have also been targeting locals with some cheaper prices for lift passes and lessons, plus laying on bus services and free passes to hot springs.

Sapporo Bankei Ski Area experienced a 10% increase in lift users in December and January compared with the same period a year before, according to an article in The Japan Times.

The resort of Sanlaiva saw a 14% increase in the number of people using its lifts compared with last year.

“It seems that people see skiing as a low-risk activity in terms of infections, which makes them less anxious,” said Yoshio Sato, manager of Sanlaiva.

Attempts to attract more young people, including reducing the cost of a lift pass by half to ¥1,200 per day, have been successful.

Sapporo Teine is taking precautions such as setting up temperature sensors as well as disinfecting gondolas.

Germany Extends Lockdown

It is to almost complete halt over the Easter holiday in response to a third wave of coronavirus infections.

After talks with regional leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was now in a “very serious” situation.

Restrictions will be even tougher from 1-5 April, when most shops will be shut and gatherings will be limited.

Germans are being asked to stay at home and reduce contacts:

  • In-person religious services are cancelled
  • Big family gatherings are banned, with no more than two households, or up to five people, allowed to meet
  • All shops are shut, apart from food shops on Saturday 3 April.

The infection rate has risen above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.

A further 7,485 infections have been reported in the past 24 hours, as well as 250 deaths.

Ski resorts remain closed.

Reaction to Claims that Summer Holidays Abroad May Be Off the Cards

Some scientists say they are unlikely to take place, politicians have not refuted the claims, the travel industry is angry and the rest of us wonder when we can go on holiday.

With predictions of variant viruses for years to come it raises the issue of next winter too.

The claims came over the weekend after Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group, said “I think that international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker….. extremely unlikely.”

AITO chairman, Chris Rowles, said the comments are breeding uncertainty and that people should wait for the government report from its Global Task Force on 12th April.

AITO represents 120 independent and specialist operators, including snowsports companies.

It was founded in 1976.

“The travel industry deserves better, quite honestly. We’ve fought now for 13 months, without respite, to keep our heads above water, refunding our clients often from our own pockets, without any sector-specific support, despite the Government’s Office of National Statistics declaring travel to be the worst-affected sector of all,” Mr Rowles added.

AITO wrote a strongly worded letter to Dr Tildesley, explaining ‘reservations fell to almost zero’ following his widely reported comments.

We have further reaction from Boris Johnson, the Transport Secretary and the House of Lords.

See here for our full story:

Summer in the mountains

Summer in the mountains. Image © PlanetSKI

Monday 22nd March

Swiss Olympic Criticises Federal Government

The organisation opposes the government’s decision to extend the restrictions on sport.

It called it a “disappointing” outcome for the sports community.

Adults are still unable to train indoors with outdoor events not being allowed to admit spectators.

Swiss Olympic believes the lack of sporting activity is having a negative impact on the mental and physical well-being of people, and suggests easing restrictions would improve public health.

“In order to get going again after the crisis, society needs people who are physically and mentally fit,” said the Swiss Olympic President Jürg Stahl, in a statement.

“Sport creates the appropriate conditions for both and will therefore play an important role on the way back to normal.

“For the large number of amateur athletes, it is important to meet again at competitions after more than a year, to compete and maintain contacts.

“The clubs and their volunteer employees also flourish when it comes to organising competitions.”

The organisation also expressed hope that national competitions can return soon.

In its statement, Swiss Olympic said it would like a “corresponding decision” from the Federal Council as soon as possible and expressed its support for planning a safe return to sport in cooperation with the Government.

Switzerland has vaccinated 6.4% of its population.

Most Swiss Rules Extended From Today But One Is Relaxed

From Monday March 22nd private meetings of up to ten people are again allowed to take place – that’s up from the current limit of five.

Otherwise the current rules have all been extended as we reported earlier:

It had  been hoped that restaurant terraces could open, indoor sports could be allowed and small crowds would be able to attend cultural & sporting events.

These will remain off limits for at least the next four weeks with April 14th set as the next date for further announcements.

The Swiss Health Minister, Alain Berset,  said “we must unfortunately continue to be patient” and he added that “the situation is getting worse and we are at the start of a possible third wave.”

The government pointed to an increasing number of coronavirus cases and insufficient progress on vaccinations.

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. Image © PlanetSKI

Covid-19 Changes Crime in Austria

Criminal offences fell 11.3% last year, down to 433,811, which is the lowest number for years.

The pandemic is being seen as the reason.

However, cybercrime rose by 26%.

The Interior Minister, Karl Nehammer, summed it up by saying “crime has changed”.

Jet2 Adds Geneva and Salzburg from Newcastle Airport for Next Winter

The airline is hoping for pent-up demand from skiers and snowboarders unable to have reached the slopes this season.

The new weekly services will operate on Saturdays to Geneva in Switzerland from mid-December 2021 to mid-April 2022.

New Saturday services will also operate to Salzburg in Austria from mid-December 2021 to the beginning of April 2022.

It already flies to Grenoble in France.

“We know how much skiers and snowboarders missed the slopes in Winter 20/21, so we are absolutely thrilled to be launching such an exciting ski programme for Winter 21/22 from Newcastle Airport,” said the CEO of Jet2, Steve Heapy.

“With the best slopes across Europe available, we know that snow sports fans in the region will be clamouring to book the best of the action for Winter 21/22 and ski flights are selling very well as a result.”

“With perfectly timed flights, we’re giving skiers access to the best ski resorts across Europe and we know the return of our ski programme will be a huge hit with snow sports enthusiasts.”

Jet2.com has also added Chambery to its line-up of ski destinations for winter 2021/22.

It now flies to Geneva, Grenoble, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Turin and Barcelona.

Jet2.com has put its ski flight programme for winter 2021/22 on sale, with skiers and snowboarders able to access the slopes from all ten of its UK bases, including new base Bristol Airport.

“We know how much skiers and snowboarders missed the slopes in winter 2020/21, so we are absolutely thrilled to be launching such an exciting ski programme for winter 2021/22. We are delighted to be adding Chambery,” said Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.

The company is offering 10% off all ski flights booked on or before 31 March.

“We’re giving skiers access to the best ski resorts across Europe and we know the return of our ski programme will be a huge hit with snow sports enthusiasts,” Heapy added.

Check out the weekly rolling reports on PlanetSKI for the last month:

March 15th: Covid-19 impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

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

February 22nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing & snowboarding

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

Image © PlanetSKI

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