Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
6th September 2020
Last modified on September 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 12th September
Swiss Care Homes Outbreak
8 people have died and 90 have tested positive for coronavirus in two care homes in Switzerland.
A total of 37 residents and 19 staff members have tested positive and seven had died at Siviriez nursing home in the canton on Fribourg.
In the nearby Maison Bourgeoisiale retirement home 1 person has died with 21 residents and 13 staff testing positive.
Switzerland has seen more than 45,000 cases with more 1,700 deaths.
The country remains on the UK quarantine list.
US Expert Warns People about the Winter Months Ahead
Dr Anthony Fauci has told Americans they will need to “hunker down” through the autumn and winter.
“Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things,” said the top infectious disease expert in the USA.
“We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy.”
Arapahoe Basin Will not Require Bookings Next Winter
Many resorts in the USA and Canada have said they will, but A-Basin says they will not be need for season pass or day pass holders for next season.
The number of passes sold will be limited though to control numbers.
The ski area chief said access details are still to be determined for Ikon and Mountain Collective passholders.
Single-day lift passes will be available each day of the season and that all lift tickets will be required to be purchased in advance online.
The ski area might request that people voluntarily avoid peak periods.
Skiers and snowboarders will be encouraged to ski weekdays instead of weekends and in afternoons instead of mornings to reduce crowds.
When the resort briefly re-opened in May as some covid-19 restrictions were lifts reservations were needed.
Face coverings must be worn inside buildings, in the base area and while taking the ifts.
First snow has already fallen in the resort and it plans to open at the end of October/beginning of November.
Currently resorts in Europe are only just beginning to release information on what next winter may look like.
We reported on Val Gardena in Italy yesterday (see lower down this blig) and earlier reported on Ischgl in the Tirol.
It is likely most resorts in each country will all look very similar as they will simply have to follow the rules laid down by their central government.
Some may go further, but we expect them to be broadly the same.
Friday 11th September
300 FIS Stakeholders Meet Online to Prepare for a Covid-19 Winter
National Ski Associations, World Cup and World Championship Organisers, rights-holders Infront and EBU, as well as broadcasters, sponsors, colleagues from the IOC and Winter Sports Olympic Movement came together this week.
They were looking at Covid-19 prevention for the upcoming winter competition programme organised by the International Ski Federation.
The goal remains to stage full FIS World Cup competitions in all the six FIS disciplines, and to ensure health welfare and discipline of all participants and events.
The alpine World Cup ski racing in North America has already been called off:
“FIS events and sport as such organise their events according to rules and regulations with a strong emphasis on the safety of all participants especially the athletes,” said the FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis.
“We are disciplined, have limited access to our events with zonal accreditation restrictions, professional security services and a Medical Officer and expertise with the necessary facilities and equipment permanently, so the requirements of Covid-19 protection are well covered.
Every is well aware of their responsibilities to behave in a disciplined way to protect themselves, each other and the events.”
FIS has appointed a Covid-19 Expert for Testing and Hygiene, Rasmus Damsgaard.
French Alps & Pyrenees Expecting to See Tougher Measures to Battle Covid-19
They are part of nationwide changes as record numbers of daily cases are recorded.
Ski resorts are making preparations for winter with some releasing details of what measures may be in place.
Some looking to ski in France next winter will be watching what the new measures are – how effective they may be and how long they might last.
The country registered 10,000 new cases in a 24-hour period, according to Thursday’s figures.
The head of the scientific council advising the government on the pandemic, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, has warned that “tough” decisions may be required.
The governments and health officials are meeting today.
President Emmanuel Macron said the meeting would give the public a clear idea of what can be expected in the coming weeks.
“We need to be as transparent and clear as possible,” he said on Thursday, according to AFP news agency.
“We need to be demanding and realistic without giving in to any kind of panic.”
France has seen more than 30,800 deaths from Covid-19.
No UK Quarantine From Italy
Italy remains off the list countries requiring quarantine meaning people can fly without quarantine from the Alps and the Dolomites.
Alternatively it is possible to drive back via Germany, but people must not interact if they get out of their vehicle in either Switzerland or France as both countries remain on the list.
They must also use the Channel Tunnel rather than a ferry service.
Other mountain countries in the Alps and Pyrenees requiring quarantine are Austria, Andorra and Spain.
The UK government made its decision on Thursday.
Sweden is also now on the exempt list.
Last month PlanetSKI was in the mountains of the Aosta Valley:
Italian Ski Area of Val Gardena Unveils Covid-19 Plans
It says there will be stringent safety measures and flexible cancellation terms for the winter of 2020/21.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the three villages of Ortisei, Selva di Gardena and S. Cristina in the Dolomites have developed policies across the summer.
To try to reassure and safeguard people for the winter – locals and visitors alike.
- Daily disinfecting of cable cars and toilets
- Protective dividers between clients and vendors
- Table service in mountain restaurants
- Rreduced numbers in group activities
- Covid test centres
- All staff trained in Covid measures
- Staff wear masks covering mouth and nose, have daily temperature checks and regular testing.
Flexible cancellation terms
- Changes in national travel restrictions
- Reimbursement for pre-booked ski rental and ski school if cancelled up to 48 hours before arrival due to a positive C-19 test
- Many hotels have new and individual cancellation terms
“The aim is to protect the health of our guests and the locals in the best possible way,” said Christina Demetz from Val Gardena Marketing.
“The summer is now almost over and we are happy to announce that our security measures have been effective, and no case of infection has occurred, despite the many tourists who have spent their holidays in our valley.
“This positive experience serves as an important basis for us to compile an all-round carefree package of measures tailored to the winter.”
To check the latest advice and conditions see here
PlanetSKI is a huge fan of skiing in Italy and the Dolomites in particular.
See here for when we visited Val Gardena back in January 2019:
Other ski resorts and companies are beginning to release details of their likely covid-19 restrictions for next winter:
Thursday 10th September
2021 World Ski Championships Planning for up to 60,000 Spectators
They are scheduled to be held next February over a 2-week period in the Italian resort of Cortina in the Dolomites.
Normally such an event would see double that number, but it is likely social distancing will be required and some fans may stay away.
The organisers say each day will see around 5,000 spectators.
The event is scheduled to take place from February 7th to 21st.
Ryan Air Criticises Government Quarantine Measures
Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, has said the policy of the UK government is “lumpy and defective”.
He made the comments in an interview with the BBC.
He accuses the government of a “shambles of mismanagement” and says the way forward is testing at airports.
The UK government claims quarantines are vital because testing can be unreliable.
It is expected that countries will be added to and taken off the UK quarantine list on Thursday.
Currently the alpine countries of France, Austria and Switzerland are on the UK list.
Italy is not on the list.
PlanetSKI was in Switzerland two weeks ago as the decision was announced:
In the Pyrenees mountain range Spain and Andorra require quarantine along with France.
US Ski Resort To Limit Numbers Next Winter
Wolf Creek in Colorado says it will only have 5,000 people per day on the mountain.
It wants to ensure social distancing and control the number of skiers and snowboarders on its slopes.
Premium Pass Holders will be able to reserve places on the mountain 12-hours in advance.
Wednesday 9th September
Crystal Ski Holidays Axes Entire Chalet Programme for Next Winter
The UK’s largest ski tour operators is ending its chalet business.
It blames Covid-19 and will have huge implications for next season’s ski and snowboard holidays.
Crystal Ski Holidays will continue to offer self-catered accommodation and hotel stays.
“Sadly, due to the impact of covid-19, Crystal Ski Holidays is no longer operating a chalet programme for the winter 2020/2021 season,” it said in a statement.
“We’re sorry for any disappointment but the health and safety of our customers is our top priority.
“There are still a range of great ski holiday options available to choose from, including self- catering apartments to half board hotels.
“We’re proactively contacting everyone affected to discuss a full range of flexible options available, including amending to an alternative ski holiday, or cancelling and receiving a full refund.”
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the global tourism industry and it look like this will continue into the winter with a significant impact on snowsports.
Brexit will also be extremely challenging as it is still unclear whether there will be free movement of labour – this underpins how the catered chalet business model works.
Read our full story here:
Val Thorens Creates Special Web Page for Covid-19 Information
The Clean United label aims to collect all information associated with COVID-19 on one webpage for the high altitude French resort in Les3Vallees.
It ranges from initiatives put in place by the resort and local businesses to the current social distancing and hygiene measures announced by the French Government.
“All information will be collected and updated regularly, everything to ensure the distribution of the latest guidance to reassure visitors,” said the resort.
See the web site here.
First Snow in Canada as Resorts Begin to Release Covid-19 Rules for Next Season
Winter is on its way with snow at altitude in Canada.
The resorts are looking ahead to what the winter may be like as the pandemic continues.
It is always a welcome sight and the snow has been falling at some of the ski resorts in Alberta.
To open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, resorts in Canada are beginning to release their plans.
See here for the full story:
Tuesday 8th September
Crystal Ski Holidays Announces Covid ‘Peace of Mind’ Reassurances
The UK’s largest ski operator has introduced new COVID-19 reassurances for the upcoming ski season.
Crystal is introducing a range of ‘peace of mind’ reassurances that will ensure their customers’ experiences are safe and enjoyable:
- If a customer is diagnosed with COVID-19, or is showing symptoms and needs to self-isolate before they are due to travel, they can amend their holiday free of charge
- Anyone who can’t travel because they live in an area which goes into local lockdown can also amend their holiday free of charge
- If there are local restrictions in a resort which mean you can’t ski, customers will be proactively contacted so they can amend or cancel their holiday free of charge
- If customers need to quarantine when they arrive or return from a destination, they can amend or cancel their holiday free of charge
- If the FCO advises that all but essential travel is permitted to a destination, customers can amend or cancel for free
EasyJet Reduces Winter Schedule as Demand Weakens
The airline hoped to operate 40% of its usual flights next winter but is now reducing capacity by a further 2%.
No details have been released of which routes will go.
“We now expect to fly slightly less than 40% of our planned schedule over the current quarter. We will continue to take a prudent and conservative approach to capacity, as we have done during this period,” said easyJet Chief Executive, John Lundgren.
“We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.
“We called on the Government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.”
Australia Looks to Secure 85m Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine
If approved on two current trials they will be ready for use in January 2021.
The country has extended lockdown measure as we reported lower down this blog on Sunday 6th September.
“The agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light,” said the prime minister, Scott Morrison.
One vaccine is from Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, while the other is a local one from the University of Queensland and CSL.
Australia has recorded more than 26,000 coronavirus cases and 769 deaths, most in the past two months after an outbreak in Victoria.
Some resorts in New South Wales, including Perisher and Thredbo, remain open under Covid-19 restrictions.
Those in Victoria are all shut with little prospect of opening again this season.
So, how near are we to getting a vaccine?
This is the latest from the BBC’s Health and Science correspondent, James Gallagher:
Coronavirus still poses a significant threat, but there are no vaccines proven to protect the body against the disease it causes – Covid-19.
By the end of the year, there could be at least half a dozen different coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials, including one being developed by University of Oxford that is already in an advanced stage of testing.
Research is happening at breakneck speed. About 140 vaccines are in early development, and around two dozen are now being tested on people in clinical trials.
However, no-one knows how effective any of these vaccines will be.
A vaccine would normally take years, if not decades, to develop. Researchers hope to achieve the same amount of work in only a few months.
Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become widely available by mid-2021, about 12-18 months after the new virus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2, first emerged.
That would be a huge scientific feat and there are no guarantees it will work.
Covid-19 Cases on Canadian Flights
CTV News is reporting that 973 flights in Canada had at least one Covid-19 positive person onboard.
The latest one was last week.
According to Public Health Agency of Canada documents seen by the news outlet, Covid-19 positive cases were found on nearly 600 international flights since February.
There remain border restrictions for international arrivals though PlanetSKI is keeping its fingers crossed as our reporter, Ross Young, hopes to be visiting Big White and Revelstoke in December.
To reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, resorts in Canada are beginning to release their plans.
At Big White tickets will need to be purchased online in advance to eliminate person-to-person contact and ensure the mountain can manage guest numbers.
People will need to wear masks on the lifts and in the queues, but not while skiing or snowboarding.
There will be social distancing in the restaurants and bars, with more takeaway options.
The rental shops will need a reservation and people can hire a ski instructor to teach the people in their bubble.
It is unlikely there will be group lessons.
“You’ve got something on your feet that’s more than a metre long, so that’s going to help,” said Michael Ballingall, the senior vice-president of Big White Ski Resort to local media.
“I think it’s going to feel a little like it did in the ’70s or ’80s.”
Monday 7th September
More Covid-19 Cases in France
There were 15,621 new cases of Covid-19 over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.
France hit a high of nearly 9,000 new cases on Friday.
The recent rise is twice as high as in Spain and four times higher than in Italy.
Quarantine is required if you arrive into the UK from the French Alps and Pyrenees, plus the Spanish Pyrenees.
There is currently no quarantine requirement from the Italian Alps.
PlanetSKI was in the Aosta Valley at the end of last month.
Ski Solutions Launches Digital Brochure With Covid-19 Tips & Information
The ski specialists and tailor-made tour operator, who are going into their 35th winter, have launched their online and interactive brochure today.
It has information about what skiing in a Covid-19 world will be like, tips for staying safe, and news of the protection customers will have if their holidays are disrupted by the virus.
The company’s website also has a dedicated coronavirus page, which is being continually updated.
“Our experience over the years has seen us deal with everything – from ash clouds to avalanches and most recently, a ski season cut short by Coronavirus,” the brochure states.
“Whatever the world throws our way, when you book a tailor-made holiday with us, we’ll look after you from beginning to end. If travel advice changes, we fix it.”
Not surprisingly, they are offering self-drive, self-catered holidays to the Alps for those who want to stay in their own private social bubble.
See our full article with more:
Ischgl Sets Out to Restore Reputation After Covid-19
The Austrian resort has become a byword for a ski resort that spread coronavirus.
Many others likely did similar, but the mud seems to have stuck on Ischgl.
Resort officials have presented their plans for next winter in some detail.
There will be social distancing and hygiene measures that are currently required by rules set down by the province and central government.
The first day of skiing will take place on 26th November 2020 as planned.
However, there will be no traditional Opening Concert and the start of the season will be a more subdued affair
The crowded apres ski bars look set to be a thing of the past.
“There will be no apres ski in its usual form,” said the resort.
See here for our full report on what next season will look like:
Sunday 6th September
Melbourne Extends Lockdown as Covid-19 Still Not Under Control
Restrictions in the Australian state will be in place until 28th September, with a slight relaxation of some regulations.
A gradual easing of the measures will then be implemented from October.
The state has been the epicentre of the country’s second wave, accounting for 90% of Australia’s 753 deaths.
The current lockdown was originally set to end on 13th September.
“You can’t run out of lockdown. Because all you are doing is running into a third wave and we’ll all be locked up again,” the State’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, said at a news conference.
“We can’t open up at this time. If we were to we would lose control very quickly… I want a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible and this is the only way, these steps are the only way that we will get to that point.”
All ski resorts in the state of Victoria remain closed.
In Melbourne around 300 people marched through the city on Saturday to complain about the lockdown measures.
Covid-19 Restrictions at English Ski Area Next Winter
Yad Moss is in the North Pennines and 11kms south of Alston.
There’s 4kms of varied intermediate skiing and plenty of ‘characterful’ off-piste.
It has been operating for 40 years.
There will be limited numbers in the Day Lodge, no mandatory wearing of masks and people are going to be asked to keep a ski pole away from each other.
See here for more on the covid-19 restrictions and about Yad Moss itself:
Demand Surges for Second Homes in Switzerland
Since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions estate agents report a renewed interest in chalets and other holiday apartments.
According to one agent, Wüest Partner, the price of second homes in Switzerland has risen by 3.6% over the past 12 months.
The demand for detached properties has increased this summer – up 25% in small and medium-sized towns such as Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Sion.
Swiss people are apparently looking at moving out of cities as they need more space for teleworking, plus a garden or patio for leisure activities as covid-19 continues and some fear will rise again.
International Ski Federation Publishes Timetable for Autumn Meetings
The Autumn Meetings are scheduled to take place from September 23rd to October 2nd and will be crucial for what next winter may look like for elite snowsports competition.
Around 50 meetings will take place across the FIS disciplines. ,
The meetings will all be virtual.
The FIS Council is also due to meet, virtually, on October 3rd.
Its online meeting will elect hosts for the 2025 editions of the World Ski Championships in Alpine and Nordic disciplines.
There is a three-way battle to host the 2025 Alpine World Ski Championships
- Crans Montana in Switzerland
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany
- Saalbach in Austria.
Trondheim in Norway is the only candidate to host the 2025 Nordic World Ski Championships, so looks set to win unopposed.
The FIS says the four candidates will make final presentations via videos prior to the election.
The meetings will also see the World Cup competition calendars approved.
World Cup alpine skiing in North America has already been abandoned.
Changes have already been made to the opening World Cup alpine ski races in Soelden in the Tirol in Austria.
The dates have been changed to a week earlier and there will be no spectators allowed.
Two giant slalom events are planned in Soelden, with the women’s race timetabled for October 17th before the men’s takes place on October 18th.
FIS Technical Meetings will submit the calendars to the FIS Council on October 3rd for official ratification.
An Autumn Council meeting on October 9th will also review other proposals following the Technical Committee meetings.
The schedule can be accessed here.
Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we have 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 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
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