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What are the Covid rules on Italian ski slopes this winter?

After two difficult years, in October the Italian ski industry cautiously reopened for the 2021/22 season. Here's what to expect if you're hitting the slopes this winter.

A woman shows her health pass on the ski slopes in Veneto, Italy.
If you're skiing in Italy this year don't forget your health pass. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Italy’s ski resorts began opening for the new season in late October with a strict health protocol in place.

After two winter seasons hit hard by the Covid crisis, Italy faced the same challenge as its Alpine neighbours of France, Switzerland and Austria – figuring out how to get the ski industry back on its feet safely amid a new wave of infections across Europe.

READ ALSO: What will Italy’s Covid restrictions be this Christmas?

Italy’s ski industry hoped that Covid-19 health passes, masks and other health measures would be enough to prevent closures this year; and so far, they’ve been right.

Despite the country’s infection rate soaring in recent weeks, the Italian government has been determined to keep the country open as far as possible.

It’s achieved this by allowing the vaccinated and Covid-recovered to continue to access all venues and services nationwide, while increasingly tightening restrictions on the unvaccinated.

New rules that come into force on January 10th prevent those who are unvaccinated or not recently recovered from Covid from accessing ski resorts.

Here’s a closer look at the measures in place going forward for the 2021/22 season, with the obvious caveat that things can change at short notice.

‘Green pass’ requirement

From January 10th, a ‘super green pass’ health certificate, reserved for those who are vaccinated against or recovered from Covid, is required to access all ski slopes across the country for anyone aged 12 and up.

Previously a basic ‘green pass’, which can also be obtained via a negative Covid test result, was all that was needed to go skiiing in Italy’s least-restricted ‘white’ or ‘yellow’ risk category regions, while a ‘super green pass’ was required only in more restricted ‘orange’ zones (as of January 10th, the entire country is either a ‘white’ or ‘yellow’ zone).

That changed with a decree that came into force on December 30th as the government introduced new measures aimed at keeping Italy’s contagion curve under control. The reinforced or ‘super’ green pass is now required to access most leisure facilities and venues; ski lifts and slopes among them.

EXPLAINED: Where do you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy?

A green pass check will be carried out at the same time as ski passes are validated, with most resorts now using apps which merge their ski pass with the Italian green pass, such as the Dolomites Superski app.

“If the green pass is valid, the ski pass is activated for that day. Those who have a multi-day or seasonal ski pass will activate it via the app before the start of each ski day”, explained the president of the association of South Tyrolean cable car operators, Helmut Sartori. 

Some resorts such as Cervinia have made it mandatory for visitors to purchase ski passes online as part of efforts to keep crowds under control.

At bars and restaurants, from January 10th the ‘super’ green pass is also requirement for all customers aged over 12 under nationwide rules for both indoor and outdoor dining.

Hotels, which could formerly be access via a basic green pass, also require a super green pass from this date. Read more about the current Italian health pass requirements here.

What other rules are in place?

Surgical-grade or FFP2 masks are mandatory both on ski slopes and in any public areas (including outdoors) in resorts where queues or crowds are likely.

Capacity is reduced to 80 percent for closed cable cars, while open chairlifts can operate at full capacity.

Ski slopes must use lanes which “guarantee interpersonal distancing of at least one metre” and staff should be on hand to enforce rules and check for areas at risk of overcrowding.

The standard Italian rules on masks and distancing will also be in place at all businesses.

Photo: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

Will these rules be in place throughout the winter?

Ski operators are keen to avoid a repeat of last year, when photos and videos were widely shared online showing maskless crowds at resorts – despite the strict health measures in place nationwide.

Ski slopes remained closed for most of last winter under tight restrictions, only opening in late February 2021 after infection rates began to fall.

There is no guarantee that the rules won’t change again this winter, and it all depends on the health situation in Italy overall, as well as in specific regions.

Business closures are unlikely unless any region is declared a high-risk ‘red’ zone.

Under red zone restrictions, ski lifts, restaurants, bars and other facilities would be closed.

What about travel to Italy?

All travellers entering Italy from a ‘list D’ country need to be able to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 AND a recent negative test result. Those without a vaccination or recovery certificate must still produce a negative Covid test result to enter the country, and are required to self-isolate for five full days on arrival.

Passengers from the US, Canada and Japan may produce a document from their state health authorities certifying that they are recently recovered from Covid in lieu of a vaccination certificate.

Once in Italy, certificates from the US, Canada, Japan, the UK and Israel are considered equivalent to the ‘super green pass’ and should be valid for entry into all venues that require the pass.

For travellers coming to Italy from another European country, the rules were tightened in mid-December.

All travellers entering Italy from within the European Union or Schengen area need to be able to prove their health status using their Covid health pass or green certificate, whether flying, driving or using another mode of transport.

The Italian health ministry states that all arrivals must have a copy of a digital health pass from any EU country showing that they have completed their Covid-19 vaccination cycle or recently recovered from Covid-19; AND a recent negative Covid test.

Those travelling from the EU without a vaccination or recovery certificate are subject to the same five-day self isolation requirements as List D arrivals.

All arrivals in Italy also need to present a passenger locator form (dPLF). In reality this is rarely asked for when travelling by road, but in order to avoid any hold-ups at the border you can find the form here.

The travel rules are next up for review on January 31st. But, like all other coronavirus-related rules, they are also subject to change, possibly at short notice, depending on the health situation.

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COVID-19 RULES

‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.

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