Mürren, in the stunning Jungfrau region of Switzerland, is the latest Swiss ski areas to announce it will open for the season, this weekend.
Their announcement came as Andorra joins the list of EU nations that say they won’t be opening their ski areas until January, although ski areas in Romania and Slovakia announced they would be opening this weekend too..
Mürren joins more than a dozen already open Swiss areas including Andermatt, Arosa, Crans Montana, Davos, Engelberg, Gstaad, Laax, St Moritz, Saas Fee and Zermatt.
“The mountain villages have suffered greatly over the last 9 months and to miss out on some sales over the holiday period would be a nightmare. Everyone compares a ski resort to the trouble in Ischgl last year but our knowledge about the virus is so much greater now than then” said Alan Ramsay, Head of Sales at the Schilthorn Cableway which runs the lifts, who added, “We have been running the cable car since the 6th June and have no known transmissions of the virus in the cable car. Chairlifts will be even safer and yet we are now including compulsory masks on the chairlifts too. The only dangers are the après ski and Mürren is certainly not the capital of après ski! Our restaurants are all equipped with Perspex dividers to keep people safe.”
The resort recently published this video on pandemic safety measures in place themed on their famous 50 year connection to the James Bond franchise after the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed there.
Other Swiss resorts believed to be opening imminently include Adelboden, Flumserburg, Leukerbad and Grindelwald/Wengen taking the total number of areas open in the country to around 20.
In a new twist in the run-up to the start of the season, a major snowstorm arriving in the Alps today has led Andermatt to announce it is shutting its lifts down over the weekend, due to possible avalanche danger at its famously snowy destination.
As in the EU, opinion in the UK is strongly divided between those who feel it is safe to go skiing and those who feel everyone should stay at home to minimise the danger of spreading the virus.
For those who want to go to ski in Switzerland there are multiple issues to be aware of including travel insurance validity and the need to self-isolate on your return to the UK. From 15th December this is cut from a statutory 14 days to the option of reducing it to five days – so long as they pay for a private COVID test and get a negative result at that point.
Switzerland is also under both internal and external pressure to fall into line with its neighbours and close its ski slopes over Christmas and New Year too, although at time of writing it continued to resist.
Elsewhere in Europe, two countries where ski areas have opened that are still on the safe-travel corridors list, at present, with no self-isolation required on return to the UK are Finland and Norway.
Here too rules are ever changing and need to be checked before any travel attempted but Finland most recently said it will allow visits of up to three days without self-isolation and longer stays were possible with three days self-isolation on arrival in the country.
“The Finnish borders are currently closed to leisure travellers but from 13 December they can enter Finland without quarantine if their visit is 72 hours or less. All you need to do is present a negative test result (taken with 72 hours of arriving in Finland) on arrival. If they are staying longer than 72 hours, you would also need to quarantine for 72 hours on arrival and then have a second negative test,” said Lara Wheeler who speaks for Visit Finland.
For Norway a fortnight’s self-isolation is required on arrival.