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Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding

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

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PlanetSKI’s message for 2021

Updated:

Ski Sunday… It Skis for All of Us and Still Surprises

It’s back on TV & for most of us it is likely to be the closest we get to skiing anytime soon with Covid-19 surging.

Our editor, James Cove, can’t remember the last time he saw the programme recently as he’s always out in the Alps away from TVs.

He did though see its very first episode back in 1978.

So, what did he make of it?:

The iconic theme tune sounded so familiar and brought back so many memories.

Thoughts of David Vine, the Bell brothers, Zurbriggen, Maier, Miller, sketchy camera angles, skiers out of focus, bright colours, arms flailing, looking at the scenery to see what the snow conditions out in the Alps were like and much else besides came flooding back.

Above all Ski Sunday was, is and always should be about passion.

Passion for skiing – to reflect and inspire.

I grew up with Ski Sunday as a backdrop.

My Mum and Dad were keen skiers and it was a must on our TV.

Back in the day on the Sabbath, some watched ‘Songs of Praise’ with Harry Secombe.

The Cove household watched ‘Ski Sunday’ with David Vine.

It was our religion.

On Saturday as a 9-year old I hid behind the sofa for Dr Who as he battled with the Daleks and the Cybermen – the next day I sat on the front, on the edge, enthralled by the skiers.

I was sitting on the sofa with my Mum and Dad in 1978 as the first credits rolled.

I have no recollection of it but my Mum, now 93-years old, says I was there and I always believe my Mum.

See here for more…

Sunday 10th January

Europe Faces Tipping Point in Battle with Covid-19

The virus is having a huge impact on skiing and snowboarding this winter, with the season perhaps over for UK-based skiers before it has even started.

The World Health Organisation makes a stark assessment of the situation in Europe.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, says more needs to be done to deal with what it calls “a tipping-point in the course of the pandemic” in Europe.

UK skiers and snowboarders are banned from entering Europe, negative tests and quarantine are required on return and international travel is only for essential reasons.

Operators are cutting holidays in the short term and the axing of ski holidays is likely to continue.

Regional director of the WHO, Hans Kluge, now says there needs to be a greater effort in dealing with recently discovered variants of the virus.

It has been found in some alpine nations including Switzerland.

“This is an alarming situation, which means that for a short period of time we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures,” Kluge says.

He was mostly referring to the new strain of the virus first discovered in the UK, which is more contagious.

“Without increased control to slow its spread, there will be an increased impact on already stressed and pressurised health facilities,” Kluge adds.

Read more here:

Europe Faces Tipping Point in Battle with Covid-19

Saturday 9th January

Countdown Continues to Cortina World Championships

The slopes have been illuminated in the Italian resort to mark the occasion as the countdown moves into its final stage with under 30 days to go.

It is set to be the main event of the alpine ski racing calendar this winter and a dress rehearsal for the 2026 Olympics.

The best alpine ski racers in the world will be taking to the slopes from 7th to 21st February – with full Covid-19 measures in place.

“Cortina sends a message of hope and faith in the future during this difficult time shadowed by the pandemic,” said the resort as it lit up all the World Championship slopes on the Tofane.

See here for our full story:

Canadian Province of Quebec Goes into Stricter Lockdown Today

It contains the ski resorts of Le Massif, Mont St Anne and Stoneham.

Canada’s second-most populous province is to have a 4-week lockdown, including a strict curfew.

Officials fear that without it, the hospital system will be overwhelmed.

“We are in a race against time,” said the Premier, Francois Legault, adding that Quebec is so far losing the race.

Restaurants, gyms, theaters and most retail stores will remain closed for at least four weeks.

Legault calls it “shock therapy” that he hopes will not need to be extended.

“We’re talking here about saving lives and we’re talking about saving our health care system,” said Legault.

Ski resorts remain open and are working under strict rules.

The curfew will affect Stoneham that sits on the edge of Quebec City and has a huge night-skiing operation.

PlanetSKI’s editor James Cove, went night skiing in Stoneham back in 2012.

Check out his report here:

Night skiing in Canada

“Based on the new curfew that will take effect this Saturday…..Evening skiing will start at 3 p.m. and the resort will close at 7 p.m,” said the resort.

“We are extremely fortunate to be able to continue to enjoy our winter sports despite the current health situation. We are counting on your collaboration, now more than ever, to respect the health rules in force.”

These include:

  • Physical distance of 2 meters
  • Wearing a face cover at all times
  • Frequent hand washing

“Be safe on the mountain and help us ski until spring!” added Stoneham.

Le Massif also remains open.

Here are the rules at Le Massif:

⚠️ 𝗥𝗔𝗣𝗣𝗘𝗟 𝗜𝗠𝗣𝗢𝗥𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗧

😷 We ask you to respect the sanitary measures put in place by the resort at all times. It must now become automatic.

We would like to avoid having to put more severe conditions, and we are counting on you to keep the resort open this winter. 🙏 In addition to this, you need to know more about it. ‼ ️

Wearing a MANDATORY mask when queuing for ski lifts, ski lifts (chairs or gondola) and closed spaces.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it. In addition to this, you need to know more about it. ‼ ️ Respect the physical distance of 2 meters at ALL TIMES.

We have specifically put visuals in the queues to make your life easier. In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it. ‼ ️ Wash your hands frequently.

In addition to this, you need to know more about it. ‼ ️

Chairlifts and gondola = 2 people at each end or a family bubble.

On the PlanetSKI visit to the area back in 2012 we also skied Le Massif:

Small is beautiful

And in Mont St Anne skiing continues.

“We will have evening skiing on Sunday at Mont-Sainte-Anne. It will therefore be possible to ski in the evening from Wednesday to Sunday inclusive'” said Mont St Anne.

“The maintenance of the slopes between day skiing and evening skiing will be maintained.”

 

Canada

Canada. Image © PlanetSKI.

Friday 8th January

Snowmen in St Anton for World Cup Racing

The public is not allowed to gather to watch the races but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a crowd.

A crowd of snowmen and snowwomen.

By the course, in the grandstand area and around town.

Around 100 snowmen and snowwomen have appeared in and around the Karl Schranz destination stadium and in town for the FIS World Cup racing this weekend.

There’s women’s Downhill and Super-G.

Apart from putting a huge smile on people’s faces in these grim times, it is also raising money for an African charity – ‘Snowmen for Africa’.

See here for some more images:

Sweden Introduces More Measures as Cases Continue to Rise

MPs in Sweden have passed a law to enable the closure of, or limited access to, shops, gyms, cinemas, museums and campsites.

It may also ban private gatherings and restrict access to beaches and parks.

The country has had a light-touch approach to restrictions and that is now judged not have worked well enough by some.

Ski resorts remain open, but if restrictions are brought in for beaches and parks this may be applied to the country’s ski areas.

The Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced plans to limit numbers in gyms, swimming pools and shops within hours of the legislation being passed.

The Social Democrat leader also says there will be a ban of more than eight people at bookable private party venues – from dining halls to common rooms in apartment blocks.

There is already a ban on holding public events for more than eight people, such as concerts, plays or demonstrations.

Those who break new rules emerging from the legislation will face a fine – with businesses told they may also be forced to close.

Covid-19 has killed just over 9,000 in Sweden’s 10 million population – a significantly higher death toll than its Scandinavian neighbours of Norway (467) and Finland (584) that both have populations of around 5m.

Norway and Finland have had strict and enforced lockdowns.

Sweden currently has 398 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

In Norway it is 69 and Finland has 32.

All Travellers to UK Set to Require Negative Covid-19 Test

 It is a further blow to travel whether from ski nations or anywhere else.

It comes as the South African variant is circulating.

It is seen as a necessary measure to beat coronavirus with much international travel at a halt.

People arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK nationals, will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country they are in.

It will be on top of the rule to self-isolate for 10 days when arriving in the UK.

In reality it will make little difference to people planning to go to a ski nation for the UK as we are pretty much banned from them all.

See here for the full details:

Border controls

Border controls. Image © PlanetSKI.

Growing Worries About Skiing in France

Ski lifts did not open on January 7th as forecast and some hoped for.

It now looks like ski lifts in France will remain motionless until at least early February.

Some think even longer.

For UK based skiers is doesn’t really matter as they are barred for the foreseeable future as Covid-19 and the ‘Varient Anglais’ coincides with Brexit.

“The time has not come to return to normal,” said the Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Not that it matters to UK-based skiers as the border with France remains closed to the vast majority.

The closure will remain in place until further notice, the PM said to prevent the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus which is more infectious.

France closed its border with Britain on December 20th.

At present only certain groups of people are allowed into France from the UK and they must present a negative Covid-19 test at the border:

  • French or European citizens.
  • Those who live in France or another EU country.
  • Essential workers.

Second-home owners, tourists, people going skiing/snowboarding and those visiting family are barred.

It is partly Covid-19, and partly Brexit.

See here for our updated story:

Growing Worries About Skiing in France

Thursday 7th January

Sweden Asks People to Wear Face Masks on Public Transport

It is the first time face coverings are being recommended by the authorities.

People travelling on public transport in the morning and evening rush hour will be recommended to wear a mask unless they have booked a seat.

The measure is voluntary and people won’t be fined if they choose not to wear one.

Authorities in the country have previously not recommended the wearing of masks in public, aside from healthcare settings.

Sweden has never imposed a full lockdown and has recorded 469,748 infections and 8,985 deaths – many more cases and deaths than its Scandinavian neighbours of Finland and Norway.

Ski Resorts in France Ordered to Keep All Lifts Shut

They were supposed to open on Thursday 7th January but the authorities in Paris have said they must stay closed.

It is a bitter blow for the resorts, many of whom had prepared their slopes.

The government said it is necessary to defeat Covid-19.

It is no great surprise, and many had been expecting it.

The resorts had hoped to open their lifts today.

The Secretary of State for tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told the AFP news agency that in light of “a rather steep rise in terms of new (Covid-19) cases and intensive care admissions”, the government had decided to push back the date.

Lemoyne said the ski sector would not get a new reopening date until after a Defence Council meeting next week.

“The government is well aware of that the sector needs clarity and we are committed to providing this for the rest of the season as quickly as possible,” he  said.

The closure over Xmas and New Year led to an 80% drop in the economic activity of ski resorts compared to the previous year.

The target for daily cases for Covid-19 for the French government  is 5,000 but cases in France remain at a weekly average of around 15,000.

On Wednesday France saw 25,379 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 20,489 the preceding day.

Some of the regions in the Alps are amoung the worst affected areas.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran will hold a press conference on Thursday at 6pm to review Covid-19 restrictions and give further details.

Inghams Suspends All Ski Holidays Until End of February

Ski Total and Flexiski holidays are also cancelled.

All brands are run by the Swiss company, Hotelplan.

It follows the UK lockdown and there are serious doubts about much of the rest of the season for all UK ski companies.

“Following the announcement of new national lockdown restrictions, this week, we have sadly further suspended all Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski holidays until after 27 February 2021,” said the Hotelplan UK CEO, Joe Ponte.

“Again, we are extremely disappointed for all of our customers impacted by this news. “

“It’s still not clear when we will able to travel from the UK to European ski destinations, and understandably many people are eager to get back on the slopes.

“Our customers can remain assured that we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and when it is safe to do so, we will be ready to deliver the ski holidays people want.”

Inghams Suspends All Ski Holidays Until End of February

Inghams 2020/21 campaign

Inghams In Safe Hands campaign

Switzerland Plans to Extend Lockdown Measures to End of February

Restaurants, gyms and cultural venues will likely remain closed.

There is no word on the fate of ski resorts that remain open in some cantons.

Talks are ongoing with final decisions made in a week’s time.

“The infections have remained at more or less the same level since the beginning of December,” said the Interior Minister, Alain Berset, who has responsibility for health.

The government has prepared a series of proposals, notably extending the closure of restaurants, bars, culture venues and sports across the country until the end of February.

In a change to the existing situation it is expected cantons with a lower infection rate would no longer be granted an exception to the national measures.

A final decision will be taken on Wednesday 13th January following consultations with the 26 cantons, employers’ organisations and trade unions.

Read our full story here:

Wednesday 6th January

Inbound Foreign Travellers to UK Set to Need Negative Test

The Department for Transport has said the measure is one of several being considered to stop the spread of Covid-19 across the UK border.

Additional measures, including testing before departure, will help keep the importation of new cases to an absolute minimum.

The full details are still to be agreed and will be set out in “due course”.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests taken no more than 72 hours before departure to the UK may be mandatory only for foreigners.

It is understood British nationals and those resident in the UK may be exempt.

People will need to show a negative test certificate before being allowed to board trains, ferries or planes bound for the UK.

Currently, international arrivals from countries that are not exempt under the travel corridor programme have to isolate for 10 days.

Under the test and release scheme introduced in December, this can be shortened if they have a private test five days after their departure and it comes back negative.

Border controls

Border controls. Image © PlanetSKI.

French Resorts Still Waiting to Head if  They Can Open Lifts as Planned Tomorrow

Many resorts are frustrated.

There are strong indications that they will not be allowed to open, but then again they might, so the resorts need to prepare.

The ones we have spoken to are frustrated at the last minute nature of the decision with the necessary costs and effort.

Here at PlanetSKI we’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

See here for our earlier story:

US Resort Cracks Down on Those Not Following Mask Rules Correctly

Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon is urging people to wear an appropriate face mask that covers the mouth and nose snuggly to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Most of the skiers and snowboarders are wearing a mask correctly, but not all.

“Whether in our parking lots, shuttles, lift lines or buildings, there’s just no room for those who choose not to comply and thereby threaten the health of our team, our guests and our season,” said the resort CEO, Matthew Drake.

“It’s hard to believe that a month into our season, and almost a year into this pandemic, we still need to remind some guests to wear a face mask covering their nose and their mouth,” observes Meadows General Manager Greg Pack.

“What’s even more disappointing is the belligerent, argumentative and downright disrespectful behaviour that a few of our guests express towards our team when asked to wear their face masks.”

Already people have been escorted off the mountain with their passes taken away.

If people are polite when being told to comply a note is put in their pass profile and they can continue on the mountain.

If they are disrespectful or treat team members poorly, their pass is suspended for a minimum of two weeks.

Tuesday 5th January

TUI Cancels All Holidays as Lockdown Introduced

The travel giant owns the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski Holidays.

Tui said it was “cancelling all holidays in line with international travel restrictions”.

It added that said customers due to depart from England, Scotland and Wales would be contacted to discuss options.

Tui said that customers due to travel from an English airport before mid-February, or from a Scottish or Welsh airport up to 31 January, would not be able to do so.

Those customers will be contacted “in departure date order to discuss their options”, Tui said, which include rebooking “with an incentive”, getting a credit note, or a full refund.

Further Restrictions Coming on International Travel

The UK government is ‘looking at further options’ to restrict international travel according to the BBC.

Pre-departure testing for international travel to the UK is believed to be under consideration.

There is no confirmation about which types of test will be used or the time frame.

The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, told BBC Breakfast that “We are looking at further options to restrict international travel.”

Mr Gove said there was  some “vital” reasons for international travel, including for food and fuel deliveries.

“But we are looking very hard to see how we can make sure that our ports and airports are as safe as possible.”

Flying to the Alps

Image © PlanetSKI.

French Ski Resorts Hoping for Decision on Whether Lifts Can Open

It was stated in December as Xmas and New Year restrictions were put in place that the lifts would open on January 7th – that’s this Thursday.

The signs do not look hopeful.

“We are still waiting on the government to confirm. Suffice to say we are getting pretty impatient….

“The ski areas are being prepared, but for now, no concrete confirmation for the 7th,” was how on resort official from the Portes du Soleil ski area put it to us.

“We are hoping and praying for an announcement ASAP”.

The ski areas that we have spoken to are not hopeful, but they are preparing parts of their ski areas.

Last week  a French government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, said that this was “very unlikely” to happen due to the still-high levels of Covid-19 in the country.

French Ski Resorts Hoping for Decision on Whether Lifts Can Open

Monday 4th January

Andorra Opens Some Ski Resorts for Locals Only

It opened up some ski areas on Saturday for local residents only and hopes to allow international visitors this weekend.

“Great news, the ski resorts of Andorra have now opened, residents only during this week, and hopefully international guests from the 9thdepending on the epidemiological situation,” said Steve Hull from Andorra Resorts.

One of the team from Andorra Resorts, Esther, was skiing in Vallnord at the weekend.

“This weekend it was the opening day in Vallnord so we went skiing in the area of Pal, which had open 70% of the slopes and up to 70cm of snow coverage,” said Esther.

“The temperature was below zero, however, we could see a good number of skiers enjoying the snow! The maximum capacity was controlled in Vallnord so there were barely any queues.”

Andorra Opens Some Ski Resorts for Locals Only

UK Nationals Turned Away at Swedish Border

British citizens travelling to Sweden from the UK are being refused entry.

It comes amid a lack of clarity over new Covid-19 testing requirements.

Since 1st January, UK nationals who are resident in Sweden have been exempt from a general entry ban from the UK to Sweden.

The ski resorts in Sweden remain open desite overall tighter Covid-19 restrictions in the country.

The ban was introduced due to the new coronavirus variant in the UK and UK citizens resident in Sweden were allowed in as long as they could provide a negative Covid-19 test result.

However, the BBC reports that some British people have been turned away at the Swedish border despite proof of negative test results.

The UK’s Ambassador to Sweden Judith Gough has called for “greater clarity and consistency” over what type of test is needed.

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:

The Aosta Valley, Italy

The Aosta Valley, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI.

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:

Border controls

Border controls. Image © PlanetSKI.

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 28th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

November 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 9th: Cornoavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 27th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 20th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

July 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 19th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 5th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 28th: Coroanvirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 7th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 31st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 24th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 17th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

May 3rd: The coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 26th: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding continues

April 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiiing and snowboarding continues

April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

March 29th: Our rolling blog on the impact of Covid-19 continues

March 23rd: PlanetSKI’s rolling blog on the coronavirus impact on skiing continues

 

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