Will Alpine Nations Welcome British Skiers as Covid Cases Soar in the UK?

It is the growing worry as cases in the UK continue to rise. Morocco has banned flights to and from the UK and others with alpine countries watching our rising cases closely. Lateral flow tests are now needed for returning travellers, with the UK’s travel testing regime is set to stay in place into the New Year. UPDATED

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Covid-19 cases soar in the UK, but remain much lower in many European nations, including the ski countries.

Some scientists are calling for stricter measures in the UK to reduce the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

These could include mandatory face coverings in indoor spaces and working from home.

It could lead to a significant reduction in the “unacceptable” number of Covid-19 cases in the UK, said Prof Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).

He said the level of infections in England  is an “astonishingly high rate” compared with other western European countries.

It raises the question of whether alpine nations may impose some restrictions on UK travellers as winter  approaches.

There is no indication at present that they will do so.

Flying to the Alps

Flying over the Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

Morocco has banned flights to and from the UK and other countries are watching our cases closely.

Flights between Morocco and Germany and the Netherlands have also been suspended.

“This will come as a blow to anyone who has booked a holiday to Morocco this half-term and demonstrates how international travel remains unpredictable,” said the editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland.

Latest figures show Morocco’s weekly rate of reported cases on 14th October stood at 10.4 per 100,000 people.

The UK’s is significantly higher at 488 per 100,000 people (figures reported on 25th October 2021).

Here are the corresponding figures for the main skiing nations in Europe with cases from October 13th in brackets. The UKs figure on 13th October was 396:

Austria – 256 (143)

Switzerland – 90 (74)

Andorra – 85 (46)

Norway – 76 (60)

France – 54 (44)

Sweden – 39 (38)

Italy – 38 (30)

Spain – 28 (21)

Some alpine countries have low levels of vaccination rates and are therefore more vulnerable – Switzerland is at 66% and Austria 72%.

In France vaccination rates for adults are at 85% and in Italy it is 78%.

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19  in the UK has risen recently to more than 40,000 cases per day.

A number of factors may explain why cases are so high:

  • Less mask wearing
  • More social and work mixing
  • People’s immunity waning
  • Slow roll out of boosters
  • Vaccine rollout for the first two doses has stalled

See more on the issue on the BBC:

The start of the main 2021/22 ski season is still over a month away so all the figures will change, but the authorities are watching the numbers closely.

There has been some reaction from readers on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

Facebook reaction

Facebook reaction

The UK’s testing regime for double-jabbed travellers will continue until at least the New Year.

Now people need to take a lateral flow test on return to the UK rather  than the more expensive PCR test.

  • Travellers entering England now able to use cheaper Covid tests

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said testing is a vital safety layer to ‘maintain border surveillance’.

He was speaking virtually at the Airport Operators Association’s annual conference.

“The government will continue to maintain surveillance at the border and genomic sequencing, and we will review the policy again,” he said.

“It’s been an incredibly tough and frustrating year for airports but, in fact, 2021 has seen considerable progress.

“Recent relaxations of travel restrictions are a clear sign that we are well on the way to recovery.

“This is a significant step in normalising international travel and giving people the confidence to book trips.”

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