Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding
21st June 2020
Last modified on June 28th, 2020
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
Saturday, June 27th
New Zealand PM Launches Ski Season
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has visited Queenstown on the South Island to promote the season as it gets underway.
She said the enthusiasm of residents and domestic tourists was a sign of hope for the ski industry, but she said she was aware that the lack of international visitors will hit hard.
The country’s borders remain closed to international visitors.
Overseas skiers and snowboarders contribute about half to industry’s NZ$16.1 billion annual income.
“There is no denying that this region, with our borders closed, will feel a significant impact,” she said in Queenstown.
The resorts in New Zealand are able to open with no covid-19 restrictions in place as the country has declared itself free of the virus, NZ resorts open for skiing and snowboarding
New Zealand is in talks with Australia on a so-called travel bubble to allow people to move between the two countries.
We reported on it earlier, Air bubble linking ski fields of Australia and New Zealand
However, the idea has not made much progress with new cases of the covid-19 developing in Australia.
Resorts are now open in Australia, Another ski resort opens in Australia
US Women’s Ski Team Ends Copper Camp
The men’s Europa cup team was also at the camp in Colorado where strict social distancing measures were in place, plus testing.
The teams put in training runs on the slalom and giant slalom courses.
“There are so many athletes out there who are not able to practice their sports at all, so many people who are still hardly even able to get outside, so trust me I know how lucky we were to get even a little bit of training on-snow the past two weeks,” said Mikaela Shiffrin on social media.
“ Many of our competing nations have had access to training on-snow over the last month and will continue to have that throughout the summer on the glaciers, some competitors were never forced to go off-snow at all, and still some have yet to touch their skis and may not have the chance until the fall or winter, so I am incredibly grateful to be among those who have been able to click into my skis for any amount of time at all.
“I want to send a huge THANK YOU to Copper Mountain and U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team for joining forces and putting in such a big effort to make this camp so productive for everyone involved, while still keeping us safe and healthy.
“Given everything that is going on in the world, it is absolutely incredible that this even happened and we do not take that for granted. Thank you 🙏❤️
There were no more than two skiers on a chair lift at any one time with face coverings worn everywhere, except when skiing.
The athletes were in team bubbles with the speed team not mixing with the tech squad.
Everyone’s temperature was taken twice a day and no positive tests have been reported.
In Europe the race teams have been out too.
The Italians have the Passo Stelvio area to themselves in a special deal.
The Austrian men’s and women’s teams have been in Soelden, the Swiss team on glacier in Zermatt and the French racers have been training in Courchevel and Val D’Isere.
Mountains in Europe Accessible for Summer Holidays with No Quarantine
The government has said this weekend that is set to announce the easing of travel restrictions from some European countries.
The countries include France, Italy and Norway along with Greece, Holland, Finland, Belgium, Turkey and Germany.
But not Sweden, because the infection rate there is higher than in the UK.
The full list of travel corridors with the UK will be published next week with restriction lifted on July 6th
There will be nothing to stop people flying into Italy and then heading to neighbouring Austria or Switzerland and then returning from the Alps via the same route.
The Pyrenees is opened up with France and Spain on the list of ‘approved’ countries.
The mountains of Scandinavia too with access via Norway and Finland
The government said the new rules would give people “the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad” while also boosting the UK economy – but stressed the relaxation depended on risks staying low.
A traffic light system will be introduced with countries classified as green, amber and red depending on levels of infection.
UK travellers will still have to hand over the address they plan to stay at on their return from abroad, no matter which country they are coming back from.
And they will also be legally required to wear face coverings on planes and ferries.
The Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, has welcomed the move.
“Confirmation of the list of countries is eagerly anticipated by the travel industry, and should encourage customers to book,” ABTA said.
“The blanket Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel is still a major impediment to travel, however, and we look forward to the government adopting a similar risk-based approach to that advice.”
Some UK ski operators offer summer holidays to the mountains and they have also welcomed the move, but for many it is too late.
“None of the UK brands has been able to operate any meaningful summer programme and any reopening of borders or cautiously phased-up flight schedules will not be enough to revive the business overnight,” said a statement from Hotelplan UK earlier this week.
It has Inghams in its stable with its ‘Lakes and Mountains’ programme.
Hotlelplan UK has just announced a major restructuring of its business with significant job losses expected, Hotleplan UK to close head office and cut jobs
Friday, June 26th
40% of People Living in Ischgl Ski Resort Have Covid-19 Antibodies
The Austria resort had the highest number of cases in Austria as the pandemic spread.
Skiers and snowboarders became infected and then took the virus back to their own country.
People in the resort now have a high level of immunity.
Researchers from the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria carried out antibody tests on 1,473 people in the resort – almost 80% of Ischgl’s population.
The study found that 42.4% of those tested had antibodies for Covid-19.
The antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system if a person is infected with the virus.
“Even though at that rate herd immunity cannot be assumed, Ischgl’s population should be protected [from the virus] to a large extent,” said the director of the university’s Institute of Virology, Dorothee von Laer.
Only 15% of those found to have antibodies had previously tested positive for the virus.
See here for our full report: 40% of People Living in Ischgl Ski Resort Have Covid-19 Antibodies
Brothels Open in the Austrian Alps
Brothels will be allowed to re-open in Austria on 1st July.
The health ministry is working with groups representing the country’s 8,000 registered sex workers to develop hygiene measures.
Many sex workers have been struggling to survive as a result of the pandemic.
Elsewhere in Europe, Holland also intends to reopen brothels on July 1st.
One in Greece opened last week.
Rules brought in by the Greek government include card-only payments, a time limit of 15 minutes per customer, compulsory face masks and workers taking a list of clients’ contact details in case they need to be traced
Thursday, June 25th
The Mountains of Europe Beckon as UK Government Set to Ease Quarantine Restrictions.
The British government is set to exempt travellers from most western European countries from having to spend 14-days in quarantine after arriving in the UK.
The BBC reports there will likely be air bridges with nations including France, Italy, Spain, Norway and Finland.
This gives access to the Alps, the Pyrnenees and the mountains in Scandinavia.
Other countries include Greece, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Sweden is expected to be left out as its infection rate is higher than the UK’s and is judged to have handled the pandemic badly by many commentators.
The details are expected to be announced this weekend.
Hotelplan UK Planning Big Job Losses & Will Close Office
The company that owns ski brands Inghams, Ski Total, Esprit Ski, Flexiski and Santa’s Lapland has announced the ‘regretful’ decision to scale back on its UK business following heavy losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is planning to close the Godalming base, home to the ski brands, and is considering making 27% of its UK workforce redundant.
Staff will move to Hotelplan’s Farnborough office.
A consultation on the changes is due to begin on 1st July.
The Hotelplan UK CEO Paul Carter says the company has done everything it can to protect jobs for as long as possible.
“However, looking beyond the support of the UK job retention scheme, we face a set of circumstances where this is not enough to sustain us and we have exhausted all other options.”
See the full details in our separate story Hotelplan UK To Close Office & Cut Jobs
Jet2 Announces Mass Redundancies
The airline is to make 380 cabin crew and 102 pilots redundant, according to news reports.
It has notified those involved and started the consultation process.
Jet2 operates flights and holidays across Europe from UK airports including Leeds Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester and London Stansted.
Destinations include several airports popular with skiers and snowboarders including Geneva, Lyon, Turin and Salzburg.
Its planes have been grounded for three months but it is planning to re-start services on 15th July.
The company is blaming ongoing uncertainty in relation to the lockdown and its continued challenges.
“As a result, we have had to reassess and reduce our flying programme for the remainder of 2020 and for 2021,” a spokesman told TravelMole.
“Sadly, the overall effect of these reductions has been the need to propose a number of colleague redundancies across our business.
“We cannot say how much we regret these proposed redundancies and we will be consulting with appropriate representatives of the affected colleagues in order to ensure that all options and issues are fully considered.”
Wednesday, June 24th
Snow Centres remain closed
Indoor Snow Centres in England confirm they will not be reopening on July 4th.
“So we’re not able to open the slopes on 4th July as we’d hoped 😢 but we’re ready and waiting for when we are able to slide again,” said the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead.
We reported on the likely decision yesterday (see further down this blog for more details).
Waiters in the Austrian Alps and elsewhere in the country will no longer need to wear masks from 1 July.
Social distancing will still need to be observed.
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said people not to throw their masks away, as they would be needed in the future.
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said there could well be a “difficult situation in the late autumn”.
There are also plans to allow all sports to resume in the alpine country.
Australia has first death in a month
An elderly man died in the state of Victoria after spikes in Melbourne.
There are six suburban “hotspots” in the city and most clusters have come from family gatherings, officials said.
The state is trying to tackle the spike and confine it before it spreads further.
It comes as ski resorts open in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia ski resorts open this week.
Tuesday, June 23rd
Indoor Snow Centres in England Unlikely to Reopen on July 4th
No specific mention has been made by the government as it eases lockdown measures from a week on Saturday.
However similar facilities such as bowling alleys and indoor gyms will remain shut.
Some indoor slopes had been hoping to reopen.
Outdoor ski slopes, including Sandown to the west of London, have already reopened.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be checking and updating later.
There are still several sectors in England that will not be allowed to reopen on 4th July.
· Bowling alleys
· Indoor play areas eg softplay
· Nail bars
· Tattoo parlours
· Indoor fitness and gyms
· Swimming pools
· Conference centres
Cross-party Group of MPs Call for Action on Holiday Refunds
Many people have still not received refunds for cancelled ski holidays as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the Alps and beyond.
Large numbers of people, many of whom are facing financial problems of their own are still struggling to get travel firms to refund them.
A letter written by Which? chief executive, Anabel Hoult, has been sent to aviation minister Kelly Tolhurt.
The letter was signed by 30 MPs.
It claimed that ‘trust in the travel sector is at a record low’.
“Many of the UK’s biggest airlines and travel operators are openly breaking the law by refusing refunds or failing to offer one within the required period,” it said.
It remains unclear whether refund credit notes issued by many companies instead of cash refunds are protected.
The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority have refused to confirm that ATOL protection extends to credit notes.
The problem is significant in the ski world as the resorts were closed in mid-March with 6-weeks of the season left, including Easter.
Some companies have been very good, from small bespoke operators like snow-wise through to the major players such as Inghams.
Others including some of the large French self-catering providers have not been good.
See here as PlanetSKI looked at the situation and the rights of consumers back in April; Coronavirus: Claiming for your cancelled ski trip
Most French People Ignore Track & Trace App
It came out on 2nd but only 1.9 million people have downloaded it – less than 3% of France’s population of roughly 67 million people.
Of those users, only 68 have declared themselves positive with the virus through the app.
Nearly half a million have deleted the app since downloading it.
Germany launched its coronavirus app last Tuesday and appealed to the public to sign up.
On Monday the public Robert Koch Institute reported it had been downloaded 11.8 million times.
Monday, June 22nd
Australia Ski Resorts Open This Week
Thredbo and Mt Buller are first out of the blocks and other are opening across this week.
It will though be a far from normal season with Covid-19 restrictions in place.
It could be a test of how things may look in Europe and North America next season.
Read more here in our full report on PlanetSKI: Australia ski resorts open this week
When will ski facilities open in England?
Snowsports facilities are starting to re-open again or setting dates for opening.
“We all want to get back to the sport we love but let’s make sure it is done in a safe way and that we follow all government guidelines as well as the specific facility ones,” said Snowsport England in a statement.
Some, including the outdoor slope at Sandown, are already open.
The indoor Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead is hoping for July 4th, while the Chill Factore in Manchester is currently waiting until September.
Snowsport England has surveyed the outdoor slopes, clubs and indoor centres and posted its findings here.
They closed back in mid-March as lockdown was introduced: Snow centres in the UK close
Apres Ski Worries for Next Winter
What will apres ski look like next season if social distancing measures are required?
Perhaps very different.
An indication may be that Ibiza has shut all its nightclub venues this summer and the authorities say they may be closed in the summer of 2021 too.
The Balearic Government has said nightclub venues cannot open their doors until next year at the earliest.
A local paper says the government hasn’t ruled out keeping the ban throughout 2021, or until there is a “coronavirus vaccine or treatment”.
The heaving apres bars in some ski resorts are not dissimilar to those on Ibiza.
There are concerns that things will not be quite the same.
Ski resorts and apres ski venues were known spreaders of coronavirus last winter and it is likely measures will be in place to limit transmissions if the virus is still at large:
There has been swift reaction over on our Facebook page.
Some are worried, and others not bothered.
Jonathan Miller-Cole: I’m more than happy to sit in my hotel room with a few beers or sit apart from others in the hotel, just as long as everyone is safe and we can ski.
Annie Gardner: In my 30’s when I started skiing with a group of good friends apres ski was huge fun. Managed to shake off the hangover by about 1030am.
Now in my 60’s no chance. Still have a couple of beers on the slopes, though.
Niven Dyer: Its BS its been jumping here in L2A since the resort opened nearly three weeks ago. No second wave, no sick people. Bars pumping, nobidy wearing masks except the staff. Not to mention tge demostrations taking place all over the country. No more fear porn for a virus no more dangerous than a bad flu. Under 70 and healthy, you’ve nothing to worry about at all.
Tom Winter: It’s a cool scene in Chile and Argentina, beers and BBQ with friends, watching the sunsets. Nothing like some of the madness that goes on at St. Anton or Ischgl.
Dave Preston: It’s the most pointless part of a ski holiday, you can get drunk anywhere!
Brunö Bönness: Never been my thing ,hungover on the slopes is a bleedin liability
Louise MacGregor: Not as essential as the skiing.
Bradley Michael Wigglesworth: From 4-7, apres is great!!
Alan Hall: No après! Means less noise and patches of vomit everywhere…
Jeremy Brown: I only go for skiing!
Judith Schmid: I’m too old for the après (or maybe it’s because my kids are too young for it 😉). All I want is to ski all day ⛷️ ski eat sleep repeat…
Allan Darley: The two go together 🤪
Fiona Jane Best: Now that is a worry
Lorna Hunt: When you reach a certain age, you have to choose which is your priority as you certainly can’t do both 😂. That said haven’t ever really done full blown apres as who wants to waste hours drinking & then recovering when you can be out there playing in the snow 🤔 🎿
Matt Bramall: I don’t know how much of an Aprés scene there is in the southern hemisphere but I think all Northern Hem resorts will be looking closely at how they operate their season. Its a socialising act which no ones been able to do for a while so i can understand why there’s worries.
Katherine Harvey: Most of them secretly believe alcohol is a medication – if you take enough you can’t catch anything!!
Feel free to add your comments on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.
Sunday, June 21st
Russia Freestyle Team Set to Resume Training in July
Russia’s freestyle skiing national team will begin training together in early July.
At the moment the athletes are working on their own with personal trainers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Freestyle skiers need facilities with trampoline halls and water jumps to ensure specific training.
The Russian freestyle ski team has been successful in the aerials discipline.
It has won two golds, two silvers and two bronze medals on the International Ski Federation Freestyle World Cup circuit.
There are more than 576,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Russia.
More than 8,000 people have died.
Victoria in Australia Extends State of Emergency after Spike of New Cases.
The state is home to the ski resorts of Mt Hotham and Mt Buller that are preparing to open, Ski season set to get underway in Australia
A cluster of new coronavirus infections have been recorded in recent days that are mostly attributed to family-to-family transmissions.
It is the biggest spike in cases for a month.
The state is now delaying the lifting of some lockdown measures and re-imposing social-distancing restrictions, including limiting household gatherings.
The state of emergency has been extended until 19th July.
“It’s a timely reminder that in a population that is non-immune to the virus, to Covid-19, that we’ll get, from time to time, outbreaks and clusters as we’ve seen in Victoria,” said Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth.
Here at PlanetSKI we are just checking on the impact on the ski resorts and will be updating this article shortly.
One of the UK’s leading scientists, Prof Peter Piot from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has said the quarantine measures for anyone arriving in the country “completely useless”.
On the BBC he is reported as saying the rule that those returning from abroad are quarantined for 14 days- should be dropped “as soon as possible”.
He is acclaimed for his work on Ebola and HIV/Aids.
He said the quarantine policy would only have made sense at the start of the pandemic, when case numbers were low.
The measure will be reviewed in late June.
He also said the 2m social-distancing rule gives people a “false sense of security” and greater mask-wearing in public would be more useful.
Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we reported its impact and updated daily:
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports