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InTheSnow Reporter

10 Mar 20

Coronavirus – Where’s Safe to Ski Right Now?

InTheSnow Reporter

10 Mar 20

With Italy on lockdown and several ski resorts cancelling long-anticipated music festivals and events, COVID-19 is having an undeniable effect on skiers and snowboarders across the globe.

But how exactly will Coronavirus affect your ski holiday?

Well, of course this is dependent on where you’re heading and when your holiday is booked.

The good news is that in most European ski areas, with the exception of Italy, it’s business as usual and if all remains as it is right now, your ski holidays shouldn’t be affected. However, due to the rapidly changing nature of the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s almost impossible to predict what will be happening in weeks, if not days from now. We will do our best to bring you regular updates of how Coronavirus may affect your ski holiday and where’s safest to ski right now.

Numbers of cases are constantly changing – those listed below are from data website Worldometers as of 11 March 3pm.

SCOTLAND

The numbers: (in the UK) 456 cases – 6 deaths

Believe it or not, Scotland may be the best destination for any British skiers worried about Coronavirus on the continent! It’s been one of the best winters in years in Scottish resorts, with great snow conditions that are keeping skiers that wish to stay in the UK very happy.

FRANCE

The numbers: 1,784 cases – 33 deaths.

Foreign Office: Does not advise against travel to France.

In France, ski areas remain open, though new laws brought in to limit gatherings of over 1,000 people have led to ski resorts cancelling music festivals and/or adapting their activities to deal with this new guidance. If you are travelling for an event, such as Snowboxx, make sure to check beforehand on its status.

However, it’s important to remember that the lockdown situation in Italy may affect your holiday if you are due to fly into an Italian airport.

Crystal Ski Holidays’ latest advice states that “Following a change in Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, we are no longer able to operate our holidays to Italy for the remainder of this ski season. This includes our resorts to France that fly into Turin – Les Orres, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier.” 

So if you have booked a holiday in a French resort, it’s worth double checking where you are due to fly if you’ve not heard anything yet.

ITALY

The numbers: 10,149 cases – 631 deaths

Foreign Office: Warns against all but essential travel.

The least safe place to ski right now is Italy. With the entire country of Italy on ‘lockdown’, all of the country’s ski resorts have now closed and will not re-open this season. If you have a ski holiday booked here, this will be cancelled or rearranged, depending on your provider (further details on providers below).

The Foreign Office is currently warning British residents against all but essential travel to Italy due to the severity of the Coronavirus situation. This means that if you do have a holiday booked here, you will

If you are already in Italy or have relatives you are concerned about, there’s no need for panic. The FCO have confirmed that British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction and airports remain open throughout Italy. However, airline schedules are subject to change and some flights are being cancelled, so travellers are advised to check flight details with airlines.

AUSTRIA

The numbers: 206 cases – 0 deaths

Foreign Office: No travel warning in place

In terms of risk, Austria is probably one of the safest places to ski right now, with no reported deaths in the country thus far and no travel warnings from the FCO.

However, a ban on indoor events of 100+ and outdoor events of 500+ has been announced in Austria, and certain resorts are bringing in their own measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus. Ischgl is reportedly set to close its après-ski bars after news of over 30 cases in the Tyrol region, including some in the resort itself. Nevertheless, the Austrian Department of Health has stated that Tirol is currently not considered a high-risk area.

SWITZERLAND

The numbers: 652 cases – 4 deaths

Foreign Office: No travel warnings.

Similarly to in France, Switzerland has also banned events involving 1,000+ people until 15/3/2020. However with low numbers of cases so far, it remains one of the safer skiing regions in Europe.

SPAIN

The numbers: 2,182 cases – 49 deaths

Foreign Office: No travel warnings

Though there are no specific warnings against travelling to Spain, travellers may face screening on entry. As cases are rising here at a higher rate than other European countries, make sure you check for regular updates if you are travelling to Spain or resorts in Andorra.

ANDORRA

The numbers: 1 confirmed case

Foreign Office: No travel warnings

Andorra is definitely another of the safest places to ski right now, with just 1 confirmed case of Coronavirus. All resorts are operating as normal, with great snow conditions, so a trip to Andorra may be your best bet for that last bit of skiing this winter. Just make sure to check the situation in Spain and France first, as the likelihood is that you will have to fly into one of these countries to reach Andorra.

BULGARIA

The numbers: 6 confirmed cases

Foreign Office: No travel warnings 

With a number of ski resorts and under 10 confirmed cases of Coronavirus so far, Bulgaria is looking like one of the best and safest places to ski at the moment. Be aware though, that the Bulgarian authorities have imposed some special measures, cancelling indoor cultural events and large group gatherings, and temporarily closing schools and universities.

JAPAN

The numbers: 587 cases – 12 deaths

Foreign Office: No travel restrictions, though local restrictions may occur.

Though the FCO has issued no official restrictions to travel to Japan, Japanese authorities have introduced a number of measures to tackle the outbreak, including some restrictions on travellers seeking to enter Japan.

The northern island of Hokkaido, a popular skiing destination, issued a ‘declaration of state of emergency’ on 28 February lasting until 19 March, asking residents to refrain from going out, particularly at weekends.

CANADA 

The numbers: 97 cases – 1 death

Foreign Office: No travel warnings

Canada also remains a relatively safe place to ski when it comes to Coronavirus, with under 100 cases and just one death in the country so far. As a result, PHAC has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada, though of course this could change. If travelling from the UK to Canada, you will have a lengthy flight and time passing through airports, so be sure to take the appropriate hygiene measures.

USA

The numbers: 1,016 cases – 31 deaths

Foreign Office: No travel warnings

There are no current travel warnings in place for the US and ski resorts are all still operating as usual, but it does have a higher number of confirmed cases than Canada, which may be worth noting. You should also be aware that the US Government will not permit entry to the USA to any foreign nationals who have visited China or Iran 14 days or less prior to their travel to the USA.

 

So, what are the tour operators saying about all this? See below for official statements from some of the most popular holiday operators: 

SKI SOLUTIONS

Ski Solutions have a simple way to answer the question of whether or not your ski holiday will go take place as planned:

“For clients booked to travel to Italy from 9th March – 30th April 2020 (the remainder of this winter season), No. For all other clients booked to travel for this winter, and next, Yes.”

They go as far as to say “You will receive an even warmer welcome than usual from local hoteliers and restaurants, all of whom are reliant on winter visitors to support their local communities.”

In terms of refunds in the case of cancellations, Ski Solutions “will offer you the choice to make alternative holiday arrangements with us or a refund of monies paid. We will only be able to provide you with a full refund if we have to cancel your holiday based on guidance from the FCO.”

This seems to be the case across the board when it comes to tour operators.

CRYSTAL SKI HOLIDAYS 

Crystal Ski Holidays have issued a statement that they “are no longer able to operate our holidays to Italy for the remainder of this ski season. This includes our resorts to France that fly into Turin – Les Orres, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier.”

If you have booked a holiday to the above areas this winter, Crystal are offering either full refunds or the opportunity to book another holiday to an alternative destination either on the same departure date or a different one, though conditions apply when it comes to cost differences from your original trip.

Outside of Europe, Crystal stress that “All of our holidays to other destinations are operating as normal so our usual terms and conditions for amendments and cancellations apply. However, should the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice change to advise against travel to the country you are visiting or due to visit, we will contact you to discuss your options. We will look to offer an alternative holiday arrangement or if a significant change is involved a full refund will be offered.”

More info

INGHAMS

Inghams statement on Italy: “We are now working on plans to bring home all guests and staff currently in Italy and move or cancel all holidays to Italy departing in the next few weeks. If you are currently on holiday with us in Italy, we will be in contact to confirm arrangements as soon as we can. Your Inghams Representative can also provide support and can be contacted via the number in your Welcome Pack.

If you are due to travel to Italy in the next few weeks we will contact you in due course with further information regarding your holiday. We will contact those due to depart soonest first and we kindly ask for your patience and to only contact us if urgent. If you have booked via a travel agent, they will be your point of contact.”

Inghams statement outside of Italy: 

“We’re currently operating all of our holidays outside of Italy. We will continue to operate the rest of our programme of holidays as planned, but we recognise that there may be some localised disruptions due to the spread of the Coronavirus in Europe.

We will respond to any advice by the FCO (or overseas government agencies) against non-essential travel to your destination, and will contact you as soon as it is clear we won’t be able to provide your holiday. However, the unpredictable impacts of the Coronavirus mean that decisions about cancelling or changing your holiday may be no more than a few days before you are due to depart.”

More info

SKI TOTAL

Same as above.

SUNWEB

“Restrictive measures are currently in place for all Italian ski areas and resorts. Non-essential travel to any Italian ski areas is therefore not recommended. For anyone who has a holiday booked to Italy, they will be contacted by us directly. For other countries such as France, Austria, Andorra and Switzerland, there is currently no reason not to continue with holidays and our standard change policy applies. If the situation does change, we will contact the travellers involved and post updates on this page.”