The pandemic situation is starting to look a little better, with the vaccine rollout in the UK a continuing success and Europe picking up the pace. So, what’s the latest on ski resorts opening up again? We take a look.
France: cross-country skiing gets a lease of life
Ski lifts are still shut in France, but resorts are open. The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has said there will not be another national lockdown, but he said the situation remains ‘fragile’. Although non-essential travel is prohibited to and from France, people are able to travel within the country, which is good news for ski resorts.
As a result, there has been a boom in cross-country skiing. Ticket sales have jumped more than 30%, with numbers sometimes doubling from 700 to 1,400 skiers. With lifts closed and the French population eager to travel outside of their local area and enjoy the mountains, both beginners and seasoned skiers have opted to put on their cross-country skis.
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Italy: uproar as ban on skiing extended
Ski resorts in Italy were due to reopen in February. However, the health minister, Roberto Speranza, signed a measure prolonging the ban on recreational skiing at resorts in Italy until March 5th, due to concerns about the continuing spread of COVID-19. This was communicated at 7pm the day before reopening, which prompted anger from various resorts that had spent significant amounts of money and several weeks preparing.
Attilio Fontana, the president of Lombardy, said the abrupt decision was a “further serious blow to a sector that was painfully restarting”. The resort of Piana di Vigezzo in Piedmont defied the ban and started to operate its lifts but has since closed again.
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Switzerland: a good decision to reopen?
Switzerland had started its ski season and opened lifts as usual in December, going against the wishes of other European countries. Although authorities have now agreed to ease restrictions in Switzerland further, restaurants will remain closed until at least March 22nd.
Head of Switzerland tourism, Martin Nydeggar, claimed it had been a good decision to keep ski resorts open. However, this approach has received criticism from other European nations, who have accused Switzerland of facilitating the spread of the ‘British variant’ of the virus throughout Europe. Some also claim that the higher number of cases and deaths in Switzerland’s second wave had partly occurred due to ski resorts reopening.
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Austria: negative tests and vaccine passports
Due to an outbreak of the South-African variant in the Tirol area of Austria, the government of Tirol has now said that skiers need a negative COVID-19 test to ski. A negative test result (PCR or antigen) that’s no older than 48 hours will be required. This has prompted many ski resorts in the area to close temporarily.
In addition to this, Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, is calling for a Europe-wide vaccination passport. Austria’s Health Minister said a decision on vaccination privileges would be made in April.
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