Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
28th December 2020
Last modified on January 4th, 2021
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
Monday 4th January
Italy Delays Opening its Ski Resorts
Italy has postponed the reopening of its ski resorts until later this month at the earliest. January 18th is the date pencilled in.
In the Pyrenees Andorra has opened for locals only.
Regional authorities in Italy have asked for more time to meet coronavirus regulations.
The ordinance was signed over the weekend by the health minister, Roberto Speranza.
The resorts had planned to open on January 7th but the authorities said the move was “not realistic’.
In the Pyrenees, Andorra opened its ski resorts on Saturday but only for residents of the independent principality that sits between France and Spain.
Read more here:
UK Nationals Turned Away at EU Border
At least 12 British nationals have been denied entry to Holland since January 1st as Brexit begins.
Under current EU-wide Covid measures, non-essential journeys from most non-EU countries are not permitted.
Since the UK has now left the EU, the same rule applies and the UK is classified as a so-called ‘Third Nation’.
The same border policies can be implemented at all borders into the ski nations, but it remains to be seen how the rules will be enforced by each country.
Here at PlanetSKI we have not so far heard of UK nationals being turned away by the ski nations of Europe.
The Royal Dutch Marechaussee, the military police operating at borders, told the BBC the passengers arrived at Schiphol airport on non-essential journeys have been refused entry and sent home as they didn’t qualify for entry under any of the EU/Schengen exceptions.
The exceptions are mainly countries with low levels of Covid-19 such as New Zealand and Australia.
With cases surging in the UK it is expected to be many months before the UK qualifies to be place on the list and it could have a significant impact on skiing and snowboarding if the ski resorts across Europe open.
Norway has already banned UK nationals except for essential travel.
See here for our full story on the many changes for travel for UK citizens since January 1st as Brexit begins:
Sunday 3rd January
The Pope Criticises People Who Go on Holiday amid Pandemic
Pope Francis has criticised people who have gone on holiday to escape lockdown restrictions in their home areas.
He called on those taking planes to avoid restrictions to think about the suffering of others.
“They didn’t think about those who were staying at home, of the economic problems of many people who have been hit hard by the lockdown, of the sick people,” the Pope said after his weekly noon blessing on Sunday.
“They thought only about going on holiday and having fun,” he added.
“This really saddened me.”
Caution Urged in Colorado Backcountry as Fourth Avalanche Death Occurs
With Covid-19 limitations at US ski resorts many are taking to the backcountry.
Last winter six people died in avalanches, the total this season now stands at four.
The latest fatality was a backcountry skier who was skiing on his own near Berthoud Pass.
He was reported missing by family members when he failed to return home.
Rescuers found avalanche debris and then located a pair of goggles.
The man’s body was then discovered.
The man was fully buried and not wearing an avalanche transceiver.
“Please, please, please be careful out there,” said Grand County Search and Rescue said in a Facebook post.
Avalanche experts have been warning that backcountry users that Colorado’s snowpack is very unstable this year and that they should use extra caution.
Saturday 2nd January
Ski Resorts Shut in Slovakia as Covid-19 Surges
The government has introduced new restrictions as cases continue to rise.
It is a scene that will likely be played out across ski resorts in Europe this winter as cases rise and resorts close.
Jasna has seen growing numbers from the UK in recent years.
On New Year’s Eve there was a snap announcement closing ski resorts and hotels effective from 1st January through to 24th.
A general stay at home lockdown was put in place for Slovakia.
The main resort, Jasna, made this announcement
“Based on the current government decision to tighten preventive measures, we are closing the operation of the ski resort.
“We are convinced that we can handle the situation together with a responsible approach and we can restore the safe operation of ski resorts as soon as possible.
See here for our full story:
Friday 1st January
Norway Lifts Ban on Flights from the UK
The Scandinavian country lifts its ban at the weekend, but most other ski nations are keeping their restrictions in place.
We look at the situation in the alpine nations, though lockdown restrictions mean overseas travel is not allowed for most people in the UK.
Flights will be allowed from 4pm on January 2nd.
Norway stopped travel from the UK on December 21st after news that a new variant of the coronavirus was rapidly spreading.
People arriving in Norway will need to fill out a travel registration form and they must take a Covid-19 test when entering the country at one of its border test stations, either upon arrival or within 24-hours.
Those who don’t have a place of residence in Norway must stay in a quarantine hotel for 10- days.
Though just because the ban is lifted, doesn’t mean there will be many as demand is very limited.
We are told by one PlanetSKI reader that flights are few and far between.
In this article we look at the restrictions and when they may be lifted in the other European ski nations: France, Italy, Austria, Italy and Spain.
Will the ski lifts turn in France on January 7th?
That is the date that was announced by President Macron as he ordered the lifts to shut.
Some doubts remain, but there are signs of hope.
Cases in France remain at around 15,000 per day which is higher than the target of 5,000 but they are not surging as in other parts of Europe including the UK.
Some locals that we have spoken to out in the resorts in the Alps fear they won’t, but the government has said that France will not be returning to lockdown in the near future.
There are 20 départements in France that could potentially be affected by an earlier curfew, amoung them the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-Maritimes.
A decision on open the lifts is expected early in the New Year.
See here for more:
Thursday 31st December
Verbier Orders People to Stay Away from Village Centre
The Place Centrale is one of the rowdiest places in the Alps on New Year’s Eve.
We have been there many a time.
This year the authorities are urging people to stay away.
The municipal authorities have banned all gatherings for the night of December 31, throughout the entire municipal territory.
Parties are banned in public spaces and in private gatherings are limited to ten people.
“Controls will be put in place in collaboration with the cantonal police and any infraction may be reported to the Public Ministry,” said the resort.
The State Council has also banned fireworks in Valais from December 23rd to January 3rd.
“The municipal and tourist authorities count on the efforts and responsibility of everyone and thank its residents, guests and partners for their understanding.”
Freestyle World Cup Events at Mammoth Postponed
The 2021 Land Rover US Grand Prix Freeski and Snowboard World Cup was scheduled to take place in the Californian resort from 3rd to 6th February.
US Ski & Snowboard is working with FIS and Mammoth Mountain to reschedule the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions.
“We have worked closely with Tiger Shaw and US Ski & Snowboard and agree that we must continue to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our employees, athletes, guests, and community,” said Mark Brownlie, President and COO of Mammoth Resorts.
“With that in mind, the decision was made to postpone the event to a later date. We look forward to continuing our longstanding relationship and commitment to athletics at Mammoth Mountain and will explore all opportunities to reschedule this season.”
Wednesday 30th December
High Demand Reported For Ski Holidays on Peak Dates Next Winter
UK ski tour operators and travel agents say key dates for next winter are selling fast.
Many companies put their 2021-22 holidays on sale months earlier than usual, offering incentives and discounts for early booking.
Those who want to guarantee a holiday at peak times, such as the February 2022 school half-term, are being encouraged to act soon.
Large numbers of customers have already chosen to transfer their booked trips to next season.
This, along with a significant cut in capacity as operators respond to the effects of both Covid-19 and Brexit, means fewer places for those wanting to book from scratch.
“We are two months ahead in sales for next winter,” Richard Sinclair, CEO of the specialist travel agent SNO, told PlanetSKI.
“We’ve had lots of enquiries this week. It’s very, very busy.”
Read the full details in our separate article:
Fancy Attending a New Year’s Eve Party in a Ski Resort?
Val Thorens is turning up the dials for a virtual one from the slopes.
The Summit Mix will see three top DJ’s each play a one-hour set in the best locations in the resort.
It runs from 21h30 to 00h30 on December 31, 2020.
“The concept is simple: create and film live music from 21h30 to 00h30 and share it ‘live’ over the Internet with Val Thorens fans on New Year’s Eve so that everyone can start 2021 by dancing virtually together listening to typical Val Thorens beats, made even more beautiful by the snowy peaks in the background,” said the resort in Les3Vallees.
See here for the full details:
Does Tier 4 Include a Ban on Foreign Holidays?
The picture is confused.
This from Travel Mole:
“Tier 4 restrictions have caused confusion among the travel trade and holidaymakers about whether they include a legal ban on overseas travel or if residents are simply advised not to go abroad.
While the published guidance clearly states that people living in Tier 4 must not travel anywhere else in the UK and must not go on holiday overseas, the official Tier 4 rules put to Parliament on 20 December don’t make any reference to foreign holidays.
But they do state: “No person who lives in the Tier 4 area may leave or be outside of the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.” The published list of ‘reasonable excuses’ does not include holidays, which would suggest that they are banned.
Speaking on LBC radio this morning, Matt Hancock said: “We are very clear that in Tier 4 people should stay at home.”
However, without a clear government ban on travel, some tour operators and airlines are refusing refunds to those living in Tier 4 who want to cancel their holidays.
For instance, TUI is offering free refunds to those who have booked its own holidays on its own airline, but it is only offering free changes to those who have booked packages on third-party airlines.
The lack of reference to a ban on travel in the legislation has left travel agents confused about whether customers are entitled to refunds or not.
The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating airlines that have refused cash refunds to passengers who have been unable to travel due to lockdown restrictions.”
New Covid-19 Virus Spreads to More Ski Nations
In Europe it has been found in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Iceland.
It is also in Canada, the USA and Japan.
The first case in the US is a man in his 20s in the ski state of Colorado with no recent history of travel.
The new, more contagious variant of Covid, was first identified in the UK and has now been confirmed in over 20 countries and territories around the world.
The first known case was in September in the south of England so there was plenty of time for it to spread undetected around the UK and into other countries.
The head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned against punishing nations that transparently share information.
He said, “only if countries are looking and testing effectively will you be able to pick up variants and adjust strategies to cope”.
In a separate development Spain is to establish a register of people who refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
It will share it with other European Union nations said its health minister, Salvador Illa.
He said the way to defeat the virus was “to vaccinate all of us – the more the better”.
There have been 81m confirmed cases across the world since the outbreak began, and almost 1.8m deaths.
Tuesday 29th December
French Ski Resorts Make the Most of It
It has hardly been a bumper festive period in the French ski resorts with lifts closed due to Covid-19.
However people have been able to ski tour, cross-country ski and go snowshoeing.
In town resorts have done their best.
Les2Alpes in the Isere region of the French Alps reports an occupancy rate in the resort during Christmas of 20% (it was 75% last year).
It is 30% for the New Year week (100% last year).
They sent us this video.
Resorts in France are hoping they can open their lifts on January 7th, but concerns are rising that they may not be able to do so due to the continuing spread of Covid-19 and pressure on hospital beds.
The health minister has not ruled out a third lockdown, however the rise in cases is slowing.
See here for details of the Isere region – its other resorts and what may be on offer later in the winter:
Reaction to UK Skiers Breaking Swiss Quarantine Rules
There has been widespread criticism of UK skiers in Verbier who are reported to have broken the country’s quarantine last week and fled the country.
100s apparently fled, some under cover of darkness.
See here for the full details in our earlier story:
Here is some of the reaction from PlanetSKI readers:
Sar Ah: Let’s hope they are tracked down and heavily fined and punished. And some wonder why the brits get a crappy reputation in many resorts
Andrea H. Stanley: This is why all resorts won’t open this year. The majority suffer due to the selfish actions of the minority. I’m desperate to ski. I’m desperate to see the mountains. Instead I’m pretending I’m pregnant and according to my calories over the last few months I’m starting to resemble it too!
Scott Green: Snowboarders wouldn’t of done that , bloody skiers
Monday 28th December
Finland Has Case of New Covid-19 Variant
On Monday, officials confirmed that at least one Finnish citizen who had recently returned from the UK tested positive at the weekend.
According to the AP news agency, the individual and their family are now in isolation.
Reuters news agency, meanwhile, reported that there were two cases of the new variant in Finland.
100s of UK Skiers Reported to Have Fled Quarantine in Verbier
420 people were contacted by the authorities and told to isolate in their location but only 10 are left.
Many stayed in their accommodation when they were contacted and then left their hotels under cover of darkness.
Some contacted their hotel to try to get their money back or ask if payment was needed after they had arrived in neighbouring France, according to Swiss media.
Swiss media report that others went to stay with friends who owned chalets or apartments.
Read more here in our extended story:
Covid-19 Regulations in the Ski Nations of Europe & Beyond
Which ski resorts are open, what are the restrictions and when might we see the others opening?
It’s time again to take a fresh look at what is happening across the ski resorts of Europe and North America.
Much has changed in the past 7-days in our world of skiing…
Switzerland has seen the biggest changes with many resorts opening & some closing.
Restaurants in resorts and on the slopes are shutting, except for takeaways.
The new form of coronavirus in the UK led to border restrictions across Europe, with Switzerland going one stage further by ordering people into immediate and backdated quarantine.
Austria opened its resorts on 24th December for locals only, and then went into its third lockdown 2-days later.
Some ski resorts have opened in France though no lifts are turning. They are due to open on January 7th, but over the weekend the health minister did not rule out a third lockdown.
Italy has seen a continued surge of cases and it remains in lockdown.
Resorts are closed and mountain areas off limits to everyone except locals.
Ski Resorts in Slovenia and Slovakia are open.
Cases in Slovenia are some of the highest in Europe.
In the Pyrenees some more resorts in Spain have opened, with travel restrictions in place. Others remain closed.
Andorra’s resorts are shut until at least January, with cases per head of population among the highest in Europe.
In Scandinavia, Norway and Finland have opened more ski areas with Covid-19 under control and they are perhaps the best countries for skiing and snowboarding at the moment.
In Sweden the ski resorts have opened, but cases continue to grow.
Closer to home in Scotland, Cairngorm has shut due to Level Four restrictions, but Glencoe and the Lecht are set to open for locals.
On a more optimistic note many of the alpine EU nations are now rolling out vaccine programmes. Switzerland has already started.
Resorts are still hoping to open in January.
But some see any early January openings as wishful thinking.
There is some optimism and hope for the second half of the winter… watch this space.
See here for our full report, country by country:
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:
December 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
December 6th : Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
November 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
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