Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
23rd August 2020
Last modified on August 29th, 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 29th August
Tour de France Starts Today
Once again the mountain stages will be fascinating but it will be strange without the crowds.
And expensive for the resorts as they loose out on valuable income.
It starts in Nice this year and has been delayed for two months due to Covid-19.
Le Tour takes place over the next 3 weeks with 21 stages.
There are strict coronavirus rules for the riders, the support teams and all the organisers.
This years race is all about the mountain stages.
The 2020 Tour de France will take in all the main mountain areas.
Eleven of the 21 stages of the 2020 Tour de France are described as hilly or mountainous, and only nine stages as being flat.
There are four finishes in the Alps.
See here for our full report:
Covid-19 Cases Surge in France
France has had its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections since March.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, has said another nationwide lockdown may be needed if events require it.
It is hopes the Tour de France does not contribute to any rise.
A further 7,379 cases were confirmed on Friday, bringing the country’s total to 267,077.
It was the largest daily spike since 31st March, when 7,578 cases were recorded.
On Thursday there were 6,111 cases and 5,429 on Wednesday.
The French Alps and Pyrenees have seen reduced number of people from the UK after quarantine measures were introduced earlier this month.
There are growing concerns about the next ski season with predictions of a rise in cases as winter approaches.
UK Quarantine Measures on Switzerland Come into Force
They have been applicable from 04.00 on Saturday 29th August.
There was a scramble for some to get out of the country with air fares going up to £300 for a single fare from Zurich.
PlanetSKI was in Switzerland as the measures were announced, but we’d forseen the likely introduction of quarantine and had already booked a Eurotunnel crossing for Friday evening.
We left Switzerland in the morning for a drive across France – without getting out of our car.
There has been mixed reaction from the Swiss:
See here for our latest article, posted as quarantine came into force on Saturday.
People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £480 in Scotland, and there are fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
More than 4,000 cases of breaking quarantine have been referred to the police.
Not staying at home for 14 days after arriving from designated countries risks a criminal record for offenders
“It is a serious matter. More than that though, you are in danger of putting other people’s lives at risk and that of course is a much more serious matter,” said the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.
About 1,000 people in quarantine are contacted a day by the authorities.
New Cases in Australia
New infections linked to gyms and clubs have been found in Sydney.
Health officials say 11 new cases have been reported in and around the city and there are fears the number could grow.
Two schools were also shut after cases involving staff members were confirmed.
In the state of Queensland, correctional facilities were locked down after a correctional services trainer tested positive.
Cases are slowing in Victoria.
Friday 28th August
Cases Rise in Germany
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the virus situation will become more challenging in the coming months, as winter approaches.
“Some things are likely to be more difficult over the next few months than they are in the summer,” she said at her annual summer press conference.
“We have all enjoyed the freedoms and relative protection in the summer, which is possible through life outdoors.”
Germany has urged people to stop travelling to countries and regions said to be at risk.
Infections have surged in Germany in recent weeks along with other countries in mainland Europe.
Germany will fine people €50 fine for not wearing a mask in places where it’s mandatory.
– France has made mask-wearing mandatory across Paris. The Tour de France is starting in a “red zone” in Nice, so officials say it will be “practically behind closed doors”
– Spain says children as young as six will be required to wear face coverings at school.
– Liechtenstein in the Alps is now also off-limits. It is only accessible through Switzerland and Austria which are the UK quarantine list.
Breckenridge Looks to the Winter of 2020/21 Amidst Covid-19
The US resort has been looking at ideas for winter activities outside of skiing and snowboarding.
One of the main concerns is capacity limit on the slopes and the Mayor of Breckenridge, Eric Mamula, wants to add other activities.
“We need to concentrate on the things that we can do something about,” said Mayor Mamula.
“People are still going to want to come here. … We need to make sure that we’re offering them every opportunity to come here and do some outdoor activities.”
Officials looked at ways to make backcountry skiing safer for beginners after inexperienced skiers flocked to the backcountry when ski resorts shut down in mid-March.
– Perhaps Nordic skiing with better transport links to and from the Gold Run Nordic Center. It is looking at doubling its rental fleet of fat bikes and snowshoes.
– Perhaps more emphasis on outdoor ice skating or games of broom ball at Maggie Pond.
– Perhaps opening parts of the Breckenridge Golf Club for snow tubing.
– Perhaps putting up tents on their properties, such as on restaurant patios or potentially on private parking areas, so that businesses can expand their size.
– Perhaps parking should be made easier with designated pickup parking spaces for restaurants and retail stores.
The thoughts of Breckenridge are being repeated across every ski resort in the northern hemisphere as they look to a winter with covid-19 still very much around.
Learning from their summer experiences, looking at how the resorts in Australia and New Zealand coped and seeing how best they can adapt to survive.
See here for one of our recent visits to Breckenridge:
Thursday 27th August
Switzerland Placed on UK Quarantine List
It is the latest alpine country where people need to isolate for 14-days on return to the UK .
Austria and France are already on the list, plus all the countries in the Pyrenees.
Swiss Tourism Federation director Barbara Gisi has said over 1.6 million British people travelled to the country last year and the UK is the third largest foreign market for Switzerland.
“Swiss tourism cannot afford to do without guests from abroad in the long term,” she said.
PlanetSKI reports from Switzerland as we plan to get home:
Cases Continue to Rise Sharply in France
The virus is four times more prevalent in the French population than a month ago and 21 areas are now classified as “red zones”.
“The epidemic is gaining ground and now is the time we have to intervene,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a press conference.
If France didn’t act fast the spread could become “exponential” and he said the virus is spreading all over the country.
Although the spread is primarily among young people, hospital admissions are gradually rising to around 800 a week.
The country is doing “do everything to avoid a lockdown, especially across the board”.
The health ministry is planning for local or national lockdowns.
Masks are to be made compulsory across Paris.
In Germany private parties are set to be limited to a maximum of 25 people.
The ban on large events is expected to be extended to the end of the year, as cases continue to rise.
Victoria Claiming Some Success
The state of Victoria in Australia has reported 113 new cases – its lowest daily rise in nearly two months.
Earlier this month it hit a one-day high of 700 new cases, but second strict lockdown measures have been introduced and enforced.
Its ski resorts remain closed.
There have now been more than 24.1m confirmed cases of the virus across the world and more than 825,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the USA.
World Economic Forum in Davos Next Winter Cancelled
It was due to take place in January, but the organisers have called it off due to Covid-19.
They hope to hold the conference “early next summer,” according to a representative.
This year’s gathering took place in January.
“The decision was not taken easily, since the need for global leaders to come together to design a common recovery path and shape the ‘Great Reset’ in the post-COVID-19 era is so urgent,” said the managing director of public engagement at the Forum, Adrian Monck.
“However, the advice from experts is that we cannot do so safely in January.”
It will host a “high-level,” digital forum called “Davos Dialogues” during the week of January 25th 2021.
Monck said the platform will feature global leaders and offer them a chance to present ideas on the state of the world in 2021.
Bumps Camp at Chill Factore Cancelled
Developyourskiing, run by PlanetSKI reader Toby Fishell, has called off its September course at the Manchester indoor centre.
“We have taken the difficult decision to cancel the September bumps camp because of general Covid-19 restrictions currently in force in the UK,” said Toby.
“I would like to say thank you to all my clients for their understanding at this difficult time, and for responding quickly so I could process all their deposit refunds efficiently.”
The Chill Factore opened earlier this month as we reported on PlanetSKI:
Developyourskiing is planning to set up a series of ALL MOUNTAIN CAMPS this coming winter 2020/2021, these camps will be small groups of no more than 4 in group.
There are also plans for Freeride and Ski-Touring Introduction Camps for mid-winter 2020 and into the spring 2021.
See here for more about Developyourskiing.
Wednesday 26th August
Covid-19 Secure Toilet Door Handles on Planes
Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) is trialing a doorknob that can be opened and closed with the elbow.
It is currently on test at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport until the end of the month.
ANA is collecting feedback to decide whether to roll out the system.
A spokesperson said the design was only in its “very beginning of the testing phase”.
There are two different components to the locking mechanism, which has been jointly developed with aircraft interior supplier giant, Jamco.
The first involves a sliding lock, which enables the user to lock or unlock the door from the inside.
A second door handle allows the user to then push the door open, so they can let themselves out.
Switzerland Looks Set to be Next Alpine Country to be Added to UK Quarantine List
First it was France, then Austria and now it is looking like Switzerland.
An announcement is expected on Thursday with new measures possibly coming into force on Saturday morning.
One of the criteria used by the UK government is the new cases of covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
It is 38 in Switzerland and on a par with Croatia that had quarantine introduced last week.
The UK itself currently stands at 22.5.
PlanetSKI is currently in the Swiss Alps and has booked to come back on Friday.
See here for our full story:
Tuesday 25th August
Ski Resorts Still Open As Argentina Sees Record Rise in Case
Argentina has confirmed 8,713 new cases of Covid-19 and 381 deaths in a 24-hour period.
Health officials say infections are on the rise in regions outside the capital Buenos Aires and its suburbs, which have seen around 90% of all recorded cases.
The regions of Chubut and Rio Negro where the two ski resorts of Cerro Castor and Cerro Catedral remain open for locals are not among the areas with high numbers of cases.
South America is currently one of the worst affected regions of the world.
Resorts in New South Wales in Australia “Eke Out” a Season
That’s the conclusion so far of Colin Hackworth, chief executive of the Australian Ski Areas Association.
It comes despite severe restraints on capacity due to covid-19 and many other restrictions and additional costs.
The main resorts in New South Wales are Thredbo and Perisher which have seen huge amounts of snow in recent days:
The resorts in the state of Victoria have all had to close due to the pandemic:
“Overall, COVID-19 has had a profoundly devastating impact on the Australian ski industry this year,” said Mr Hackworth.
The snow season had been “very different” this year, but visitors had been understanding about efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Other than the hygiene, sanitisation and social distancing protocols in place, the other major change this year has been the requirement for customers to book ahead and online in order to secure a spot to go skiing/snowboarding,” he said.
It means people cannot be so spontaneous once the snow falls
See the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Australian ski industry generates around 23,000 jobs and contributes $2.4 billion to the economy.
Monday 24th August
France to Impose Quarantine on Travellers from the UK
The French government has said it will soon impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from the UK.
It will mirror the restrictions imposed by the British government earlier this month on people arriving from France.
“We will have a reciprocal measure so that the British do not close the border in one direction. There will no doubt be restrictive measures for travellers returning from the United Kingdom,” said the Junior minister for European affairs, Clément Beaune.
The measures will be decided this week and anyone heading to the Alps or the Pyrenees will be affected.
Currently people arriving in France from the UK are asked to declare they do not have any coronavirus symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone with a confirmed case in the past two weeks.
The form can be found here as we’ve just filled one out as PlanetSKI is heading across France this week to the Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps.
We’re not going direct but rather via Germany and Switzerland, that are relatively clear of covid-19 despite increases in cases, to keep out of France as much as possible.
France had 4,897 new cases of the virus on Sunday and 67.1 people out of 100,000 are becoming infected over a 14-day period.
The UK had 1.041 new cases on Sunday and 22.2 out of 100,000 are becoming infected.
Further Restrictions in New Zealand
Restrictions in Auckland are being extended until the end of the week.
The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, also announced it will be compulsory to wear masks on public transport throughout New Zealand.
The country has been judged to have handled the pandemic and went 102 days without a community transmission.
The extension of measures in Auckland on the North Island will put further pressure on the ski resorts on the South Island.
They claim they have lost around 30% of their business with people unable to travel from the Auckland area.
We reported on the issue yesterday lower down this rolling blog.
Sharp Rise in Cases of Covid-19 in France
France reported 4,897 new infections in a 24-hour period on Sunday.
It’s the highest daily level since May.
The government said the virus was spreading four times faster among people under 40-years old, and this was partly due to people attending parties and gatherings where social distancing was not observed.
In Germany, politicians are calling for a temporary ban on private parties to combat the rise.
It had 632 reported new cases on Sunday and 836 on Saturday.
There’s been a steady rise in Italy recently – with 1,210 new cases on Sunday and 1,071 on Saturday.
As we reported yesterday lower down this rolling blog, the Italian government says it’s not considering a new lockdown,
People coming into the UK from France need to quarantine, but they can drive across the country from a country that is not subject to quarantine regulations (Italy, Germany and Switzerland).
They must not get out of their vehicle or let anyone in and return via the Channel Tunnel.
Argentina Joins Chinese Effort in Search for Vaccine
Argentina has joined Peru, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in clinical trials for a vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group, CNBG.
Phase-three trials usually involve several thousand volunteers as researchers look at effectiveness and safety.
The experimental vaccine from CNBG received approval from the UAE in June for a phase- three trial.
15,000 volunteers are involved in the tests.
Argentina has had 329,043 confirmed cases of covid-19 with 6,730 deaths.
Around 90% have been in the capital, Buenos Aires.
Two of the country’s ski resorts have opened for the final part of the season.
There has been some limited skiing and snowboarding, but the opening of Cerro Catedral was marred by a fatal avalanche:
There are now at least 30 experimental vaccines in human trials and thousands of volunteers have been immunised across the world.
The UK’s senior medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty has said the virus will continue to pose a “really serious challenge” for at least another nine months.
He warned that it was unlikely a vaccine would be ready before the end of the year.
Prof Whitty said there was a “reasonable chance” a successful vaccine could be ready by the following winter in 2021-22.
Questions Over World Cup Freestyle Events in North America
World Cup Alpine skiing events have already been called off in North America, All North America Alpine Ski Racing Axed due to Covid-19
It raises questions about the other snowsports disciplines, in particular freestyle.
US Ski & Snowboard and Canadian associations are currently “fully” focusing their efforts on hosting this season’s North American freeski and snowboard events as planned according to the International Ski Federation, FIS.
FIS will finalise the season calendar at the beginning of October.
Read more here in our extended story.:
Sunday 23rd August
NZ Ski Resorts on South Island Suffer from Level 3 Lockdown on North Island
The lockdown is in place in Auckland on the North island after a rise in coronavirus cases, but it means people can’t travel to the South Island.
Reports say Cardrona Alpine Resort, which also operates Treble Cone near Wanaka, has lost more than 30% of its business.
“The second week of the July school holidays we had the equivalent, if not slightly better, week than last year so that gives you some idea of how busy and we weren’t expecting anything like that. We were expecting more like 50 percent,” said General manager Bridget Legnavsky to local media.
Coronet Peak, the Remarkables in Queenstown and Mt Hutt in Canterbury are run by NZ Ski.
“Our school holidays were stronger than last year even though we were missing the Australian market, which is usually 30 to 40 percent of visitors,” said chief executive, Paul Anderson.
But now the impact of level 3 restrictions in Auckland was being felt, Anderson said.
“Probably not quite as we expected … it’s dropped off, the season pass visitation remains quite strong because most of the holders live locally. But the day pass visitation has dropped off by about 25 percent just in that first four days of level 2.”
See more here on the story from Radio New Zealand.
Italy Rejects Idea of Any Second Lockdown
Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has said there will be no second lockdown in the country.
It comes as the number of new daily cases rises above 1,000 for the first time since restrictions were eased in May.
The rise is much less than other European countries and it has the least number of new cases of a major western European nation.
Spain – 3,650
France – 3,602
UK – 1288
Italy – 1,071
“We will not have a new lockdown,” Roberto Speranza said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper.
He said the healthcare system had become “much stronger” since the start.
Italy has recorded one of Europe’s highest death tolls – 35,430.
It was the first European country to be hit badly as the virus spread from Asia.
In recent weeks it has been judged to be controlling the virus well.
Snowbird in Utah Calls Off Oktoberfest
Snowbird made the decision after considering many modified ways to host its flagship autumn event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the end it decided that, for the health and wellbeing of its employees and guests, the event would not happen this year.
“Oktoberfest has been a part of Snowbird since our first summer of operation so this decision was not taken lightly,” said Snowbird President and General Manager, Dave Fields.
“Since before we resumed business operations in June, we have taken every possible measure to ensure our employees and guests are in the safest possible environment.
“We did not feel we could maintain that standard even if we hosted a highly-modified version of Oktoberfest.”
“We can’t wait for whipped cream on pumpkin beer and polka dancing at Oktoberfest 2021…”
Something to make us smile….
Global Covid-19 Deaths Reach 800,000
At least 800,000 people have died with coronavirus across the world according to the Johns Hopkins University in the USA.
The US has seen the highest number of deaths, with around 175,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, with 113,000.
The UK has had 41,405.
Almost 23 million infections have also been recorded since the pandemic began.
Here are the tolls in some of the ski nations of the world:
France – 30,503
Austria – 730
Switzerland – 1,719
Italy – 35,427
Andorra – 53
Spain – 28,838
Norway – 264
Finland – 334
Sweden – 5,810
Canada – 9,071
Japan – 1.169
Australia – 485
New Zealand – 22
Argentina – 6,730
Chile – 10,792
Traditional Apres Ski Will Not be Possible This Winter
That is the claim from Daniel Koch, the former head of the Swiss Federal Section for Communicable Diseases of the Federal Office of Public Health as he talked about the Valais canton in Switzerland.
He was the spokesman for Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health and presented the government news conferences during the first phase of the pandemic.
He retired in early June.
“Après-ski in Valais, as we have known, will not be possible this winter,” he said while attending a conference in Crans-Montana in the Valais canton.
— Le Nouvelliste (@lenouvelliste) August 16, 2020
It is a view we reluctantly agree with here at PlanetSKI as we offered our thoughts and observations back in July on what apres ski may look like:
For the full interview with Daniel Koch in Le Nouvelliste then see here.
Oh, and here is how he retired and bade farewell back in June.
Seems that as well as a Covid-19 expert he is that very rare commodity – a Swiss person with a sense of humour 😉
The popular Instagram post shows Koch diving, fully suited, into Bern’s Aare river and waving goodbye to the camera.
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.
We have updated daily since the pandemic began.
All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:
August 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 9th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports