Some Ski Resorts in Italy Remain Open

Normally four resorts are able to offer skiing and snowboarding at this time of year. After crowded scenes in Cervinia the national government ordered them to close except to racers and professional skiers. Some though claim autonomous powers.

Cervinia opened on Saturday.

The majority of Covid-19 precautions were followed to the letter by the resort, but long queues developed outside the main lift and ticket station, with some crowding inside the lifts.

The pictures went viral.

Cervinia, Italy

Cervinia, Italy

On Sunday the government was issuing a planned Emergency Decree, DPCM, raising restrictions.

It ordered ski resorts to close to the general public pending an examination and authorisation on their procedures.

It is unclear if the measure was a direct result of the scenes in Cervinia.

“Apart from national competitions, Italy’s ski facilities will remain closed. In November you will not go skiing in Italy,” said the Italian Minister of Sports, Vincenzo Spadafora, according to Italian media.

The rules of the new Emergency Decree expire on November 24th.

Cervinia announced the shutting of the lift system on Sunday saying “The new DPCM, issued today, provides for the closure of the lifts pending the guidelines validated by the Technical and Scientific Committee”.

“We hope it will happen soon and reopen soon, in compliance with the new rules”.

Professional skiers and racers are exempt and allowed to train.

The closure was interpreted by some as a ‘temporary’ measure pending adjustments.

Cervinia closed, but three other resorts remain open – Val Senales, Passo Stelvio and Sulden am Ortler.

A colleague of PlanetSKI called up all three Italian resorts on Tuesday and it was confirmed they remain open for all skiers and snowboarders.

It appears that the ones in the Sud Tirol, Val Senales and Sulden am Ortler, are claiming provisions of Point 46 of the Ordinance of the Sud Tirol where there are semi-autonomous powers for the local authorities.

“We’re being asked a lot if we’re still open, the answer is yes,” said Val Senales in a statement.

“We take the current situation very seriously: that’s why we have developed a safety plan and ask our visitors to respect our safety regulations on site.

“Especially at this particular time we want to keep giving you the opportunity to enjoy winter sports, walk outdoors and breathe in the fresh mountain air.

“This year we have learned that circumstances can change at any time: if this happens, we will keep you informed on our website.

“In the meantime, we wish you an exciting ski season – with safety and awareness.”

According to Italian media the National Association of Cable Car Operators, ANEF, argues that “the lifts should be equated with local public transport and their closure would represent a severe blow to many mountain areas that survive only thanks to tourism and have no other income”.

According to ANEF if they close the lifts, “the hotels will also close and the economy in these countries will stop”.

It added that “ski lifts and chairlifts are no problem because they are outdoors”.

“The  second wave of infections certainly cannot be attributed to ski centers because they were still closed: skiing is an outdoor sport and cannot be treated in the same way as gyms and swimming pools”.

It remains to be seen what happens with both sides examining the issues.

Many complexities have been thrown up.

It looks like Cervinia will re-open on Thursday 29th October with facilities for competitive ski clubs, for Italian and foreign teams.

As allowed within the current rules.

It will also re-open for military sports groups.

There will be 18 race tracks – 10 for giant slalom and 8 for slalom.

Ski clubs, subject to compulsory booking, will be able to use them for training.

It appears the general public will not be able to ski in Cervinia at the moment.

The other three resorts are currently allowing general skiing.

One thing is for sure – opening a ski resort in the midst of the growing pandemic, with a host of rules to follow, to be interpreted and then enforced is not a straight-forward process.

The affair is being watched closely by ski areas across the Alps as they prepare to open.

They will be hoping to avoid the chaos and confusion of Italy.