Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
20th September 2020
Last modified on September 26th, 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 26th September
Verbier Reveals What Next Winter Might Look Like
The Swiss resort’s lift company, Téléverbier, has unveiled its plans for running the lift system next season.
“Téléverbier will open its ski resort as per usual, as soon as the snow conditions permit it, all the while guaranteeing the safety of our staff.
“There is, to this day, no lift/skier capacity-limitation for the resort.
“However, new measures may be put in place, depending on the evolution of the government’s guidelines.
“The use of masks in lifts will, however, remain mandatory in the lifts.
“Our staff is doing its best to develop plans and protocols aiming to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“We are working on these rules so we can meet the requirements and offer you an excellent stay and experience in our resort for the upcoming winter season.”
Over the summer the lift company has introduced the mandatory the use of masks in lifts, placed hand sanitizer in strategic points and ground markings in the base-stations and cash desks to help people respect social distancing.
It has been granted the “Clean and Safe” label from Swiss Tourism.
There is a “pandemic” clause, to assure the possibility of a reimbursement in the case of new government-imposed isolating measures, such as a quarantine, confinement, resort closure, etc.
“I cannot wait to be back on the slopes of our wonderful resort,” said the CEO of Téléverbier, Laurent Vaucher.
“These unprecedented times will keep on giving us new challenges until there is a medical breakthrough.
“Until then, we must all be patient, safe and responsible to preserve each and everyone’s health.”
Friday 25th September
FIS Launches “Frequently Asked Questions” Page on its Web Site
The International Ski Federation, FIS, is planning in detail for snowsport competitions next winter.
It has launched a tool on its web site for people to ask further questions directly to the FIS experts – see here for the page.
The page features frequently asked questions from seminar participants and provides clear and concise answers to points that many FIS stakeholders are likely wondering about.
The page is meant as a living document and will continuously be extended by new questions and answers during a fast-changing dynamic situation all around the world.
The International Ski Federation has finalised the details for this winter’s World Cup alpine races with a host of changes made due to Covid-19.
Here are just a few examples of the questions:
- If there still are travel restrictions: how can the participants, staff, media from countries with restrictions come to the races?
- No negative PCR test, no admission to race, correct?
- On the health questionnaire, there is a question “have you been in contact with someone with a proven infection with COVID-19”. Is there a timeline associated with this question?
- Can you explain more in-depth? What is the FIS C19 Passport?
- Do local volunteers and LOC members need to be tested for Covid19 before and during the World Cup event?
- If a test is positive and team members have to quarantine, can they remain in FIS accommodation?
France Unveils What Resorts Will look like Next Winter
The body representing the French mountain resorts, France Montagnes, has published details of the Covid-19 rules for next winter.
Some things will be the same with others very different.
France Montagnes is the federating body of French mountain resorts, regional tourist boards, ski lift companies, French ski schools and other organisations.
It has created this infographic to try to explain things.
See here for our full story: France Unveils What Resorts Will Look Like Next Winter
Austria Bans Apres Ski Next Winter
Apres ski groups have been banned in the ski resorts in Austria next winter. Ski resorts will open but with Covid-19 restrictions in place.
The message came from the Austria Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.
“It won’t be possible to have apres-ski the way we are used to from the past, because the risk of infection is too high… Ski fun yes, but no apres-ski,” he said at a news conference announcing what next winter may look like in the Austrian Alps.
He was flanked by the governor of the Tirol province as he made the announcement.
Tourism contributes 15% to the Austrian economy with hundreds of thousands of jobs, directly or indirectly, associated with the industry.
Some apres ski venues in the Austrian Alps, notably in Ischgl, Soelden and St Anton, were seen as being responsible for spreading the disease.
See here for our full story:
Crystal Ski Holidays Answers Your Covid-19 Questions
It is, to say the least, a very confusing picture for next winter with so many unknowns in booking a ski holiday.
The UK’s largest operator is on hand to try to help answer your FAQs.
There are so many questions about next winter and Crystal Ski has been trying to help with its answers to the questions the operator is most asked about a ski holiday next winter.
- What happens if I have COVID-19 so cannot travel and my insurance doesn’t cover this?
- I’ve got symptoms/been diagnosed with COVID-19 and I’m due to go on holiday. What do I do?
- My area is in a local lockdown and my holiday departure date is within the lockdown period so I can’t travel. What happens to my holiday booking?
- What happens if the UK introduces a quarantine period for arrivals from my holiday destination?
- My holiday/flight is still going ahead; however, I no longer wish to travel. Can I amend free of charge?
- Who pays any costs incurred if I contract COVID-19 symptoms whilst on holiday with you?
- Will there be restrictions in place in my destination? How will they impact my holiday?
All these questions, and many more, are answered here:
Thursday 24th September
People Looking for Destinations with low Covid-19 Levels
That’s the finding of a survey by EasyJet Holidays.
Four in 10 said they proactively look for destinations that have a low rate of Covid-19 infection and three in ten said they now prefer self-catering or self-contained holidays.
EasyJet Holidays has extended its cancellation options as it attempts to shore up consumer confidence over the winter season and ‘adapt to a new reality’.
2,028 people were surveyed.
It also found that less that 25% are prepared to travel abroad over the next three months.
The figure rises to 37% at the start of 2021, with two in five willing to quarantine on their return.
European ski destinations currently with low levels of coronavirus include Italy and Norway.
More Countries Added to Quarantine List
Denmark, Slovakia and Iceland have been removed from the UK government’s list of travel corridors.
That means travellers arriving in England from those countries after 04:00 BST on Saturday must self-isolate for 14 days.
Travellers must self-isolate when returning from a non-exempt country, or face a fine starting from £1,000.
2,500 Swiss Students Self-Isolate
They are at the EHL hotel management school in Lausanne.
The outbreak is linked to one or more parties.
Eleven positive cases have been identified and authorities say they’re too widespread to make the quarantine more targeted.
Three-quarters of the students have been ordered to remain at home or in their accommodation until 28th September.
EHL is one of the world’s top hotel and catering schools.
Mask Requirement Lifted in New Zealand
Face masks are no longer compulsory on public transport in most of the country.
From midnight on Wednesday, they are required only in Auckland.
The rest of New Zealand lifted all pandemic restrictions on Monday.
New Zealand has recorded 1,468 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths.
Morzine Unveils Covid-19 Plans for Next Winter
The French resort is the latest to reveal its policies and comes after a busy summer season with measures taken and lessons learnt.
“This winter, more than ever we’ll want to experience the joys of skiing, of freedom and nature, but we will want to feel safe while we do so,” said the resort.
“We’re taking safety seriously and are busy working on what is needed to ensure you can relax and enjoy time in Morzine.”
“Strict hygiene measures will be in place, activities will be specially adapted, but the same fresh open spaces will be available to enjoy in safety.”
The Morzine hoteliers have grouped together to agree on offering a refund or credit note if holidays need to be cancelled due to Covid.
There is also cancellation insurance available on the Portes du Soleil ski pass.
At the time of writing a mask needs to be worn in the village centre at all times and people will need to follow these rules if they remain in force for the winter.
Wednesday 23rd September
Capability for Coronavirus Testing at Airports Rising Rapidly
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says $7 tests could be available within weeks.
The IATA Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, said such tests would ‘boost passenger confidence’ and could mean an end to current quarantine measures.
He said IATA would work with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and with health authorities to implement this solution as soon as possible.
“By calling for the establishment of a global approach to COVID-19 testing for all passengers before departure we are sending a clear signal of aviation’s needs.
“In the meantime, we are gaining practical knowledge from the testing programs that already exist as part of the various travel bubble or travel corridor initiatives around the world.
“We must continue with these valuable programs which move us in the right direction by building testing experience, facilitating essential travel and demonstrating testing effectiveness.
“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic Covid-19 testing of all travellers before departure.
“This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel.”
Legal Action Launched After Covid-19 Cases in Austrian Ski Resorts
The VSV consumer association in Austria has launched a class action lawsuit today.
6,000 skiers and snowboarders have contacted VSV believing to have caught Covid-19 in a ski resort.
The VSV Consumer Association has filed four civil suits involving three Germans and an Austrian and these will be a test case for others.
In the cases one person died, two are still suffering from the effects of covid-19 and the fourth person has a mild case.
They are each seeking damages of up to €100,000 (£92,000) from Austrian federal authorities.
Ski France Offers Full Refund up to 24 hours before departure
“Covid-19 has meant planning anything in advance is complicated this year; Ski France has decided to do something drastic about it to encourage guests to book,” it said in a statement.
For bookings made up to 31st October 2020 people to pay a 10% deposit.
The next instalment will be two months before departure and the full balance four weeks before departure.
If the guest needs to cancel, they will receive a full refund until 24 hours before departure.
In addition, Ski France has also put together a ‘Book With Confidence’ charter, laying out the measures the company is taking to combat Covid-19; from enhanced cleaning to increased airing and further training for staff.
Tuesday 22nd September
Iglu.com to Cut Jobs and Slash Costs by Up to 50%
The travel agent which specialises in ski and cruise holidays says it has done everything it can to retain jobs but cuts are necessary.
The company has been hard hit by an extended halt to its cruise operations from which it earns most of its revenue.
According to a report on Travelmole, the Chief Executive Richard Down has written to Iglu’s 400 employees warning that that roles across the business are at risk.
“Iglu.com will be entering into a consultation process with staff as part of a full strategic review to reshape the business, with the goal of emerging from the pandemic stronger and poised to grow again when demand returns,” he said in a statement to the media.
He described the last few months as the most challenging in Iglu’s 22 years and said it was with great regret that it had become necessary to restructure the business.
“We are proposing to reduce our operating costs by 40-50% to be a more appropriate size for the current trading environment. We are doing this as a short-term measure so that we can emerge stronger and return to growth when cruisers and skiers are able to travel again.”
Covid-19 News from Ski Countries in Europe
A preliminary study in Norway by the public health institute says nine out of 10 people who died in the first three months of the country’s pandemic were also suffering from chronic illnesses.
Norway was not as badly hit as other European countries, with 236 Covid-related deaths from March until May.
Travellers from seven areas of France will now have to provide a negative Covid test before entering Italy, because of the sharp increase in infection.
The capital’s Ile-de-France region as well as the far south are among the areas affected.
People Turning to Travel Agents
Traditional travel agent services are increasing in demand because problems associated with the Covid-19 pandemic have put many people off booking online.
That’s the claim from a new survey.
A poll among 1,000 existing customers from the Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel found 79% would be more inclined to book with a travel agent in the future.
Of those customers who, pre-Covid, would have booked travel themselves online, 58% would switch to booking with a travel agent.
“The expertise and financial protection that booking with a travel agent provides has never been more crucial to holidaymakers than it is right now, said Sheena Whittle, Head of The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel.
“Our survey shows that customers are eager to get away on holiday but are concerned and confused by the quarantine rules and the ever changing FCDO advice.
“As a result, they are seeking out trusted travel agents to help them decide where and how to holiday; to remove the headache of having to cancel or amend a holiday booking, should travel restrictions come into force; and to give them peace of mind that their money is protected and they will be taken care of if some something goes wrong.”
New Zealand Moves to Lowest Alert Level
Just as the UK’s alert level rose to 4 – one down from the highest – the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the whole country, except the city of Auckland, is to be downgraded to Level One.
New Zealand has recorded 25 deaths in a population of five million.
Earlier this year had 102 days without community transmission following a strict two-month lockdown.
Ski resorts have welcomed the latest move.
And it comes as fresh spring snow has fallen.
Here’s Treble Cone:
Auckland will move down from 2.5 to 2.0 on Wednesday.
It means the limit on gatherings will increase from 10 people to 100.
It could join the rest of the country at level one after a review in 14-days.
It also means the first Bledisloe Cup rugby test between the All Blacks and Australia in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, on 11th October can go ahead without any restrictions.
Monday 21st September
Tighter Restrictions Across Europe
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute has listed the Austrian capital of Vienna as a ‘high risk’.
Cases in the city continue to rise.
Since September 5th there have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a 7-day period.
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has spoken of the start of the “second wave” in the country with a warning that “hard months” lie ahead this winter.
There are currently around 6,700 active coronavirus cases in Austria.
There have been 35,073 recorded cases and 758 deaths.
In the past week new regulations have been announced in Spain, Iceland, Denmark and parts of France.
Parts of the French and Swiss Alps are also seeing increases in Covid-19 cases.
The Pyrenees is also seeing a spike.
In the Spanish capital of Madrid strict new measures have come into force after a sharp rise in cases and deaths.
More than 800,000 people have been ordered to stay at home.
They are only being allowed out for essential reasons such as travel to work or to go to the doctor.
The measures have proved contentious with some protesting against what they see as discrimination against poorer areas.
Restrictions are being imposed in parts of Holland with bars ordered to close early and tighter limits on gatherings.
Arlberg Ski Area Announces Covid-19 Policy for its Lift System
The Arlberg stretches across the Tirol and Voralberg in Austria and is the largest lift-linked ski area in the country.
It is also one of PlanetSKI’s favourite ski areas in the Alps
It contains the resorts of St Anton, St Christoph, Lech, Warth Schrocken, Zurs and others.
The ski resort of St Anton is the main one and it saw a significant outbreak of coronavirus last winter.
The opening date for the area is scheduled for December 4th and the rules for the lift system have been announced.
None of the new measures is a great surprise, but skiing and snowboarding will be a different experience altogether next winter.
There is no mention of measures that will be taken at hotels, restaurants and bars.
Plus the all-important apres-ski venues.
See here for our full story:
Australia Claims Some Success in Covid-19 Fight as Ski Resorts Close
Australia has recorded its lowest daily coronavirus increase for three months.
The state of Victoria – the epicentre of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak – recorded 14 new infections to Sunday morning, down from 21 the day before.
New South Wales and Queensland reported two cases each.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said the numbers were “cause for great optimism”.
Victoria accounted for 75% of Australia’s 26,900 cases and 90% of its 849 deaths.
It has been under lockdown since early July.
Melbourne has been under tighter restrictions than other areas, including a curfew and stay-at-home orders.
It has been a ski season most in Australia will want to forget.
It has been generally poor for snow too.
Thredbo in New South Wales has decided to end its season early “due to this season’s low natural snowfall and the warm, springtime condition of recent weeks”.
“Thanks to our guests, employees and community for the 2020 snow season. We feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to deliver skiing and snowboarding this winter during such challenging times,” said the resort.
Nearby Perisher remains open.
Sunday 20th September
Covid-19 Statement from Alterra
It comes from the CEO of Alterra Mountain Company, Rusty Gregory.
Alterra runs 15 resorts in North America including Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California; Stratton and Sugarbush Resort in Vermont; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah; and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia.
It is also linked to the IKON Pass that has many more resorts offering the pass.
“The health and well-being of Alterra Mountain Company guests, employees, and local communities has and will always be our company’s highest priority.
Since last winter’s resort closures, our teams have been working to develop operating plans and protocols designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
We are intently focused on complying with local, county, and state regulations and offering the best guest experience possible for the 20/21 season.
The effectiveness of these plans will rely on your cooperation with our enforcement of face coverings, social distancing and crowd management on and off the mountain.
This effort starts with controlling resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding.
We are prioritizing access for season pass holders and will tightly regulate the number of daily lift tickets that will be available by advance purchase only.
To this end, walk-up window sales will be eliminated, and the sale of some undated lift ticket products will be discontinued until further notice.
The pandemic has disrupted our lives in so many unpredictable ways.
Medical professionals and scientists tell us that this constantly changing dynamic will likely continue until effective vaccines and therapeutics are developed and become available to the general public.
Alterra Mountain Company and our destinations are committed to staying on top of the inevitable changes to come as best practices and health regulations throughout the two countries, six states, three Canadian provinces and 15 mountain communities in which we operate rapidly evolve. Our teams will communicate these changes to you as soon as possible so we can all adjust and plan accordingly.
Like you, I’m excited to get back to winter and the skiing and riding to come.
These unprecedented times will continue to challenge us and will require tolerance and effort by all of us to help keep each other healthy and our destinations open for your enjoyment.
I look forward to seeing you on the mountain.”
Covid-19 Climbing Chalk?
A US company claims to have a climbing chalk cream that disinfects while it’s being used.
Friction Labs from Colorado has a product that contains an ethanol concentration of 80%.
It abides by recommendations from most major health organisations for hand sanitation during a public emergency.
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:
September 13th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
September 6th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
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