Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding
5th July 2020
Last modified on July 12th, 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 11th July
China cancels international sport with exception of Beijing 2022 test events
China has announced the cancellation of all international sport for the rest of the year due to coronavirus.
- Six Women’s Tennis Association events – including the WTA Finals which were due to take place in Shenzhen in November. China was also due to host four ATP tournaments.
- Two big golf events were due to take place in Shanghai – the men’s HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
- Xiamen was set to host the Asian Sport-Climbing Championships in October.
- Guangzhou was due to host the badminton World Tour Finals in December.
- Two cycling stage races due to take place in October are also cancelled – the men’s Tour of Guangxi, and the women’s Tour of Chongming Island.
There have been more than 83,500 cases of coronavirus reported in China and more than 4,600 reported deaths.
The country has reported nine new cases in the past 24 hours.
Test events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics can go ahead.
Friday 10th July
Media casualties from covid-19 and changing business landscape
The webs sites OnTheSnow and Skiinfo have decided to call it a day.
They are run by the Mountain News Corporation that is based in Boulder in Colorado, USA.
The news was released on social media:
“Ski and snowboard enthusiasts: It has been a pleasure to serve you, but we have made the decision to shut down our OnTheSnow and Skiinfo websites due to the changing media landscape, financial declines in recent years and COVID-19 difficulties.”
July 13th will be their last day.
Here is the full announcement:
Ski and snowboard enthusiasts from around the world:
We have been proud to provide you with free access to snow reports, resort guides and more, and we are beyond grateful for your readership and contributions to our community over the years.
Unfortunately given the changing media landscape, Mountain News Corporation has experienced financial declines in recent years. With additional economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic now facing our business, it is not financially viable to continue operating.
Mountain News Corporation and our OnTheSnow and Skiinfo websites will shut down on July 13, 2020. We will explore the possibility of selling, partnering, or contributing assets to another media outlet if there is an opportunity to allow for a consistent or enhanced online experience.
We want to thank our loyal employees for their tireless work over the years to bring great information to all of you. We take comfort knowing that our collective passion for the sport of skiing and snowboarding will certainly live on.
We’ll see you on the mountain.
– Mountain News Corporation
Two Resorts in Australia Close Due to Covid-19 Spike
Falls Creek and Mt Hotham in Victoria have closed after local restrictions have been put in place and the border with the neighbouring state of New South Wales is shut.
“We have made the difficult decision to suspend operations at Hotham and Falls Creek, effective Thursday July 9th through to at least August 19th,” Vail Resorts, the US company which owns the ski fields, said in a statement.
Mt Buller remains open.
See the full story here: Two resorts in Australia close due to covid-19 spike
Indoor Snow Centres in England Set to Re-Open
As we predicted yesterday on PlanetSKI (see below) the indoor centres are about to re-open.
“Further to the UK Government’s latest announcement, I am delighted to announce we will be re-opening later this month. We will announce further details at 2pm, Friday 10th July,” said Ian Brown, the MD of the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead.
Watch this space….
Update: Indoor snow centres to reopen
Ben’s Bus Prices Announced for Next Winter
The airport to resort transfer company has frozen prices for next winter and in some cases lowered them.
“We’ve firmed up our prices for the 2020/21 ski season and we have good news – they have all either been frozen from last year or have come down,” said Ben.
See here for further details: Cheap ski transfers
The web site has also been updated with the nroutes and times of service: Ben’s Bus.
The site will be going live for sales very shortly.
Ben’s Bus was one of the snowsports companies that did well as the resorts closed when the pandemic struck.
It took a decision to refund all customers as soon as possible with no quibbling.
Fears for Jobs at Eurostar
The UK government is being urged to offer support to Eurostar over fears that the impact of coronavirus could lead to a job cuts.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said that Eurostar’s aim to reduce costs by 20% could have “serious implications” for operations in the UK.
Eurostar has announced that it will axe the popular ski train to the French Alps next winter, blaming it in covid-19 restrictions.
Eurostar says it hopes to cut costs through reduced working hours and part-time working.
Thursday 9th July
Indoor Snow Centres in England to Open in Mid-July?
The government hopes to open gyms in England in mid-July said the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.
It is likely, though not certain, the indoor snow centres will come into the same category.
“Our hope is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July,” Rees Mogg told Parliament.
The indoor snow centres shut in mid-March as coronavirus restrictions came in; Snow Centres in the UK closes.
Earlier the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead said it had hoped to open in early July along with other sectors of the economy.
“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 as the end of June.
Here is a taster of what things may be like.
Melbourne goes into lockdown with people barred from nearby ski resorts
Five million people in Melbourne are unable to leave their homes for the next six weeks, except for essential reasons.
Skiing or snowboarding at the nearby resorts of Mu Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek in Victoria is not one of them.
The city has seen a spike in new covid-19 cases.
Many ski resorts asked people to stay away anyway even before the lockdown, as we reported earlier on PlanetSKI lower down this rolling blog.
The resorts have stockpiles of PPE at local medical centres.
The only reasons people can leave are:
· To study or work, if it is not possible to do so from home
· To exercise
· To shop for essentials
· To give or receive care or medical assistance
Gyms, swimming pools, beauty salons and cinemas are shut.
Restaurants and cafes can only offer takeaway food and drinks.
Victoria’s border with the neighbouring state of New South Wales has been closed.
The cities of Albury and Wodonga on either side of the border are usually divided by just the Murray River.
But now the communities are separated by a police checkpoint and residents need a permit to cross it and access another part of their city.
ABTA Calls on More Support for Outbound Tourism
The Summer statement from the Chancellor has been broadly welcomed by many, but more could be done for outbound tourism – including to the ski resorts in the Alps, Pyrenees and Scandinavia.
Outbound tourism employs 220, 000 jobs in the UK, some in the snowsports industry.
“The lack of backing for outbound tourism represents a missed opportunity and is in urgent need of tailored support,” said a statement from the Association of British Travel Agents.
“We shall continue to press for additional support measures for the travel and tourism industry in the coming weeks.”
The new Job Retention Bonus scheme, which will see the Government paying employers £1,000 for every furloughed employee they bring back to work, as long as they are retained at least until January 2021.
Campaign launched to save the Ski Train
It has been going since 1997 but has hit the buffers after Eurostar cancelled it for next winter.
It has blamed coronavirus restrictions, but some think this is exactly the moment when train travel could be a viable alternative to flying.
See here for our full report: Campaign launched to save the ski train
Wednesday 8th July
Eurostar Cancels Ski Train for Next Winter
The service runs from London to Bourg St Maurice in the French Alps giving access to some of the main ski resorts in France.
The company says it has been forced to take the decision due to coronavirus.
It says it is looking at its whole schedule and needs to concentrate on routes with high demand.
It has apologised to all its past skiing and snowboarding customers.
“Social distancing measures on long journeys would be very challenging with the cleaning necessary. People having to wear masks for 7 or 8 hours would also not be lead to a comfortable journey,” said a spokesman from Eurostar to PlanetSKI.
Eurostar usually runs direct day trains to the French Alps on Saturdays between December-April as well as direct night trains on Fridays from January-April.
It had been thought train travel might be a safer option for people to get to the Alps if they did not want to fly.
See here for our updated report as the ski train is cancelled.
Sweden introduces tougher measures
New regulations requiring pubs, bars and restaurants to ensure there’s at least a metre between separate groups of customers have come into force in Sweden.
Sweden has had very few restrictions in place and its ski resorts continued to remain open as they closed across the rest of Europe back in March.
It has had 73,344 reported cases with 5,447 deaths.
The totals far exceed its Scandinavian neighbours of Finland and Norway
It has the 5th highest death rate per million of its population behind Belgium, UK, Spain and Italy.
Many countries have barred visitors from Sweden as border restrictions are lifted with other nations.
Some think such measures should have been introduced months ago.
New Melbourne lockdown continues as state borders closed
Five million residents of the Australian city of Melbourne have been told to stay at home for six weeks, amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The state’s borders with neighbours New South Wales and South Australia closed at midnight local time.
The ski resorts that are open in Victoria – including Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Mt Hotham – had already requested people from Melbourne not to come.
We reported on the development on Tuesday, lower down this rolling blog.
Residents from Melbourne usually flock to the ski resorts in their thousands at this time of winter.
Strict measures are in place in the ski resorts and the resorts say they are doing all that is possible and treating the new surge very seriously.
“If you feel unwell, you must stay home,” said Mt Hotham.
It posted this message on social media as skiers and snowboarders flocked to the resort:
And here’s why – some decent conditions:
“We are on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps,” said Victoria State Premier, Daniel Andrews.
“I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us.”
People will be kept to their homes and will only be able to leave for essential reasons, such as for work, exercise and shopping for food and other necessities.
Schools will largely return to distance learning and restaurants will, once again, only be permitted to serve takeaway food.
The covid-19 numbers rose past 100 at the weekend.
Then on Tuesday, nearly 200 new cases were confirmed.
Masks re-introduced in some parts of Austria
The alpine nation lifted rules on wearing masks in shops and restaurants at the end of May.
But the province of Upper Austria has made them compulsory as new cases are reported.
From Thursday masks will be needed in all public spaces.
People can take them off in a restaurant once sitting at a table, but waiters have to wear a mask at all times.
The province has 427 infections with 3,300 people in quarantine.
“We’re still not used to masks, and I know it’s uncomfortable wearing one,” said Upper Austria governor Thomas Stelzer.
Switzerland has made masks compulsory on public transport nationwide for the first time, citing rising numbers of travellers.
Though wearing face coverings is already recommended, “few people are heeding this advice”, the federal government said.
Tuesday 7th July
Ski Resorts in Australian State of Victoria Restrict People from Melbourne as COVID-19 Spikes
Victoria’s resorts have officially barred skiers and snowboarders who live in the coronavirus hotspots in the state capital of Melbourne.
100 new cases were reported at the weekend and another 200 on Tuesday.
The border between Victoria and New South Wales will be closed tomorrow as we reported earlier in this rolling blog.
As COVID-19 numbers across the state continue to grow the ski resorts are reassuring visitors they are enforcing strict health and safety measures.
Temperature testing is being practised at Falls Creek businesses, and a COVID-19 testing clinic has also been set up.
The resort is refunding people who were from Melbourne COVID-19 hotspots.
The other main ski resorts include Mt Hotham and Mt Buller.
Five million people in and around Melbourne have been ordered back into lockdown for the next six weeks.
Signs of life for next ski season?
Tour operators report a rise in bookings, summer travel restrictions are being eased and resorts are planning ahead for next winter.
It will be a somewhat different affair but there are, at last, growing signs of some optimism.
As the winter season of 2019/20 came to an abrupt end in the middle of March, so did bookings for next winter.
In the midst of a pandemic with uncertainty in abundance it was hardly the time to book a ski or snowboard holiday in the distant future.
Now though things appear to be changing see the full report here: Signs of Life For Next Winter’s Skiing and Snowboarding Season?
Monday 6th July
The border between two ski states in Australia is closed as season is underway
The border between Victoria and New South Wales is to close after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Melbourne.
The outbreak in Victoria’s capital has seen hundreds of cases in the past two weeks, with partial lockdown reintroduced in 36 suburbs and severe lockdown in 9 tower blocks that house 3,000 people.
More than 300,000 people are affected.
Victoria recorded 127 new infections on Monday – its highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
We have reported about it in this week’s rolling blob and last week’s, Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding.
The closure happens on Wednesday.
“This is one of those precautionary measures – it is one of those things that I think will help us in broader terms contain the spread of the virus,” said the Austrian Premier, Daniel Andrews.
New South Wales has the resorts of Perisher and Thredbo, while Mt Buller and Mt Hotham are in Victoria.
Australia was aiming to be completely out of lockdown by the end of July.
Australia has had around 8,500 confirmed cases and 106 deaths.
What is the Secret of Japan’s Success in Fighting Covid-19?
The country barely went into lockdown, it kept its borders open with China, its ski lifts remained turning, and it has an elderly population with huge densities of population.
Tokyo is one of the world’s mega cities with 37m people crammed in.
Ideal conditions for the virus to spread.
It has done very little testing – just 348,000, or 0.27% of Japan’s population
Yet, Japan has had under 20,000 confirmed cases and less than 1,000 deaths.
Many theories are put forward: from wearing masks to little handshaking, a healthy life style with low levels of obesity and immunity achieved from an earlier and similar virus.
At the end of the day, though, there is still no widely accepted reason.
Read this fascinating article from Rupert Wingfield-Hayes on the BBC.
Japan’s ski resorts are open or preparing to open for summer activities with few Covid-19 restrictions in place.
We visited them last year.
First the north island of Hokkaido.
And then the ski areas on the main island.
And more about the skiing in the resort:
Sunday 5th July
Another Resort in New Zealand Opens
People started the season ski at Whakapapa ski field in New Zealand’s North Island.
The ski field opened a small part at a lower elevation to the public on Friday 3rd July and skiing and snowboarding continued over the weekend.
New Zealand has largely beaten covid-19 and no strict measures are in place.
Spike continues in Melbourne with more cases and further lockdowns
The Australian city that is close to the main ski resorts of Mt Buller and Mt Hotham continues to fight new outbreaks.
The state of Victoria has reported 67 new infections since Saturday, as the authorities struggle to contain the outbreak.
Nine tower blocks in Melbourne have been put into a complete lockdown with support for about 3,000 residents there.
36 neighbourhoods also remain under lockdown with more than 300,000 people affected.
“This is not going to be a pleasant experience for those residents, but I have a message for those residents: this is not about punishment but protection,” said the Premier, Daniel Andrews.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, warned that the communal nature of the facilities, which house people on low incomes, had “genuinely explosive potential” for the spread of the virus.
The ski season in Australia is now underway, Australian ski resorts are now open.
The Australian Government is providing personal protective equipment including gowns, masks, gloves and goggles, to general practices in the ski fields in Victoria and New South Wales.
It is to help protect frontline health workers during the ski season.
The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said it was “critical general practitioners were able to quickly and effectively respond to potential cases of COVID-19.”
“We need to continue to have the right controls in place to test more people, trace those who test positive and respond to local outbreaks when they occur,” he said.
“The opening of the 2020 ski season is a welcome milestone after many months of COVID-19 restrictions, but we must remain vigilant to the threat posed by the virus,” said the Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton.
“Australians heading to the snow are still required to practise the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule, good hygiene and follow limits for public gatherings. Everyone is encouraged to download the COVIDSafe app.”
The government says the delivery of PPE to clinics near the ski fields is a last line of defence.
“It is not a replacement for physical distancing and good hygiene practices.”
If visitors feel unwell, no matter how mild, they must stay home or in their accommodation.
Victoria, with its ski resorts of Mt Buller and Mt Hotham, is making testing mandatory for all people returning from overseas trips.
The Prime Minister, Daniel Andrews warned that a state-wide lockdown was possible if people became complacent with Australia’s worst outbreak in almost three months.
Other parts of Australia have had no or very few cases.
Australia has had about confirmed cases 7,700 and 104 deaths.
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 since the pandemic began.
All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports