World Health Organisation Urges Caution for Ski Resorts

The WHO has issued wide ranging guidance as Covid-19 spreads again. It has specific advice for ski resorts and skiers in Europe as the season gets underway.


It has given advice to the governments, communities and individuals across Europe in a wide-ranging document published today.

It says that skiing itself does not spread coronavirus, but the activities around it in the resorts themselves do.

“There are over 1000 ski resorts across the European Region. Eleven months into the pandemic, we know that ski resorts played a significant role in seeding the pandemic across Europe and that social gatherings were key in its resurgence during and after the summer,” said the World Health Organisation.

“Skiing does not spread Covid-19, but busy mountain resorts do.

“During the upcoming holidays, WHO recommends that countries carefully consider adapting the setup of seasonal activities to remove the possibility of crowding, especially in confined or closed settings, including during travel.”

The ski resorts in Switzerland are open, Swiss ski resorts to open over Christmas.

Ones in Austria open on December 24th, Austria opens ski resorts for Xmas, but only just and not for many.

Some resorts in Catalonia in the Spanish Pyrenees opened this week with more set to follow before Xmas, More ski resorts open in Spain.

All the resorts have strict measures in place to limit the crowds, both in the lifts and in bars and restaurants that are open.

The resorts have spent much money and time trying to ensure that resorts are compliant.

Ischgl in the Tirol in Austria has spent a reported €700,000 putting measures in place.

There is little doubt that ski resorts across the mountains have implemented all the correct measures and many have gone further than the guidelines.

It is in their interests to ensure they are covid-safe.

The problems come with people following the rules, and enforcement.

There have been problems in Zermatt and Verbier in Switzerland, though the authorities stress the problems have been sorted out and such scenes are a thing of the past.

Queues in Zermatt, Switzerland Nov 2020

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier, Switzerland

There were also problems in Cervinia as it opened for Autumn skiing back in October.

Cervinia, Italy

Cervinia, Italy

All resorts in Italy are now closed to the general public until January.

When, and if, they open this is what they may look like according to our friends at Ski Solutions who visited Cervinia ahead of its opening.

It gives a good idea of what measures have been taken.

What Will Skiing be Like During Covid-19? | Ski Solutions Visit Cervinia

The Ski Solutions experts head to Cervinia, Italy to find out what it is like to travel to the mountains and go skiing with Coronavirus restrictions in place. Watch our Covid-19 travel update video for all of the latest news from the mountains.#skiing #mountains #coronavirus #covid19

Posted by Ski Solutions on Wednesday, 30 September 2020

In the Alps resorts are also closed over Xmas and the New Year in France and Germany.

For a full and detailed round up of the state of play in the ski nations of Europe see this earlier story on PlanetSKI that we posted at the beginning of the week.

The article includes information from Norway, Sweden and Finland in Scandinavia.

The Pyrenees is also covered with details from Andorra, Spain and France.

Plus some of the smaller skiing nations in Europe; Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

And Scotland where some ski resorts are preparing to open this weekend.

Cairngorm, Monday 14th December

The WHO said it recognised that “winter holidays are a time for family, community and renewal.”

It described COVID-19 transmission across the European Region as “widespread and intense”.

It urged the authorities to assess winter sporting and recreation gathering and “evaluate very carefully the risks associated with them.”

It advised everyone to “Play it safe and stay healthy”.

See here for the full document from the WHO:

Minimizing the COVID-19 risk: advice to individuals, communities and governments for the winter holidays