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COMPARE: What Covid rules are in place for the ski season across Europe?

How do regulations for this ski season compare across Europe?
How do regulations for this ski season compare across Europe? Photo by Sebastian Staines on Unsplash
The ski season is just a few weeks away. Here are the rules in place in different European countries.

Austria

Austria’s Tourism Minister summed up the country’s approach to winter tourism as “strict rules, safe winter”.

Proof of either vaccination against Covid-19, recovery from the virus, or a negative Covid test (called 3G in Austria and Germany, which stands for ‘Vaccinated, Recovered, Tested) will be mandatory for tourists in cable cars. If you’re using a test as your Covid pass, you will likely need to have your pass checked regularly during your stay to check that it is still valid.

Apres-ski venues meanwhile are covered by stricter rules which are linked to the infection risk level in Austria, which is based on the available capacity of intensive care beds. At the moment Austria is in level 1, which means these venues can be accessed using proof of 3G. But if the situation worsens, this may be changed to 2G meaning that only proof of vaccination or recovery are accepted for entry, not a negative test. 

Note that individual states may introduce their own additional rules going beyond those that apply nationally.

The Rotair Titlis in the Swiss alps is a sight to behold. Photo by Julien Flutto on Unsplash

Photo by Julien Flutto on Unsplash

France

Not everyone is welcome in French ski resorts this winter as unvaccinated travellers from orange countries (including the UK and USA) can only travel to France for essential reasons – which does not include a quick whizz down the slopes.

To enter France vaccinated travellers need only to provide proof of vaccination and a health declaration – full details here.

In ski resorts masks will be required in the queue for ski lifts and in enclosed lifts, but not on open chair lifts or on the slopes, while the health pass will not be required to use ski lifts, although there is the option to impose this if case numbers rise – full details here.

In addition to this, the standard French health rules will apply. This means that the health passport is compulsory to enter venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, tourist sites and leisure centres. It’s also required for long-distance train journeys, so if you’re taking the train to a resort, expect to be asked for it.

EXPLAINED: When and where you need a health pass in France

The pass requires one of three things; proof of fully vaccinated status, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours. It is also compulsory for all over 12s – the majority of French teenagers are now vaccinated but this may pose a problem to visitors from countries that have only just began vaccinating under 18s.

Most people use the French TousAntiCovid app, but you can also present proof on paper as long as there is a QR code on your paper certificate. People vaccinated in the EU or Schengen zone can use their home vaccine codes for this, those vaccinated outside the EU must either obtain a French QR code or – if vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland – upload their NHS certificate to the French app.

Mask rules in France remain in place for all public transport and all indoor public spaces that are not covered by the health pass (mainly shops). There are no medical exemptions to mask-wearing and failure to wear a mask can net you a €135 fine.

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Switzerland

After being one of the few countries to open its slopes last winter, Swiss ski resorts will again be open across the country in 2021/22. 

After a longer than expected wait, the Covid rules for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports were released in mid October.

The Swiss government agreed with ski resorts on Tuesday, October 21st, that the Covid certificate will not be required to hit the ski slopes this winter.

UPDATED: What are the Covid rules on Swiss ski slopes this winter?

The agreement came after a long debate about which protective measures should be introduced in the coming season, Swiss news outlet Blick reported.

The main question was whether the Covid certificate would be required in chairlifts or on the slopes in general, as it is in Switzerland’s neighbours, for instance Austria.

The Covid certificate – which shows if someone has been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative for the virus – will not be required to ski or snowboard, nor will it be required to take chairlifts.

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

It will however be required in indoor areas of bars and restaurants in the ski area, although people eating and drinking on terraces and balconies will not need a valid certificate. 

Masks will be required in chairlifts and on mountain railways and cable cars, but Covid certificates will not. 

This therefore means the rules in these areas reflect those in public transport. 

Ski areas are however free to put in place a Covid certificate requirement if they deem it appropriate. 

Some, such as the Fideriser Heuberge ski resort in Graubünden, have indicated that they will require a Covid certificate for skiing or taking chairlifts. 

Winter sports: Which Swiss ski resorts open earliest?

Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Norway

Life on the slopes in Norway will more or less be back to normal this season as most Covid measures, such as social distancing, were lifted in September.

Some lift operators may choose to retain rules on gondolas and chairs, such as having capacity limits and social distancing. Still, should infections continue to trend downwards, this will be unlikely to happen. Covid certificates will not be in use at ski resorts across Norway. 

For many, skiing isn’t about skiing, it’s about the after ski. This season it should be business as usual at après ski venues across Norway, as there aren’t any restrictions for capacity or guests attending bars and nightlife venues. 

Currently, everyone from within the EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) can travel to Norway for whatever reason they please. In addition, they won’t need to get tested 24 hours before their departure to Norway, as has previously been the case.

There are still some quarantine requirements in place for travellers from parts of Europe. Those coming from red and dark red countries will need to undergo quarantine at home or another suitable location until they return a negative PCR test taken at least three days after arriving in the country. Those who have to quarantine also need to test at the border and fill out the entry registration form. You can take a look at Norway’s quarantine rules here

Children coming from red and dark red countries will also need to test at the border and register their entry, but are exempt from quarantine. 

Fully vaccinated travellers with a UK or EU Covid certificate are exempt from all travel restrictions. 

Travel for those outside the EEA is still restricted, and only residents, citizens and the close family and partners of those who live in Norway can enter from Non-EEA countries. However, this is likely to change throughout the winter, so be sure to stay up to date with the latest rules.

Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

Italy

Italy’s ski industry is hoping a health pass requirement, mask rules and other health precautions will be enough to keep businesses open this season after two difficult winters.

The Italian government has not set out specific rules for ski slopes or resort operators, instead leaving it up to the country’s winter sports federation, association of chairlift operators and association of ski instructors.to draw up a reopening protocol.

Wary of new closures should infection rates spike, operators have chosen to remain cautious.

The protocol states that the requirement to show a health certificate or ‘green pass’ will apply to everyone aged over 12 when accessing ski lifts and slopes.

Italy’s green pass demonstrates that the holder has either been vaccinated, has recovered from Covid-19 recently or has tested negative.

READ ALSO: What visitors need to know about getting Italy’s Covid green pass

Masks are mandatory “both in common areas and on the slopes” while ski slopes must have lanes which “guarantee interpersonal distancing of at least one metre”.

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

Some resorts such as Cervinia have made it mandatory for visitors to purchase ski passes online, as recommended under the protocol.

At indoor bars and restaurants, the green pass is a requirement for all customers aged over 12 under nationwide rules set by the Italian government. The pass is not required for customers sitting in outdoor areas and it is not required by hotels.

A health pass proving vaccination, testing or recovery is needed when travelling to Italy from within Europe. Arrivals from the US, UK and other non-EU countries will need to show proof of vaccination or recovery plus a recent negative test result – find full details here.

A skier pulling off a funky trick in the Swiss ski field of Laax

Photo by Jörg Angeli on Unsplash

Spain

Spanish authorities are yet to announce the Covid-19 rules for the 2021-2022 ski season. Given the considerably lower prevalence of the virus and high vaccination rate in Spain, they’re likely to be less strict than for the 2020-2021 season. 

Face masks are no longer required in outdoor spaces when a safety distance of 1.5 metres can be kept between people. 

There is also no need to have a Covid health pass to gain access to restaurants, cafés or other indoor spaces as is the case in other countries, although it is helpful for travel purposes and there is talk in some Spanish regions requiring proof of vaccination or testing being needed for large events such as concerts.

Regional authorities in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Aragón and Catalonia – where Spain’s main ski slopes are located – will have the final say in the coming weeks, but there is little evidence to suggest there will be strict Covid measures or entry requirements in place.

In terms of opening dates, it’s proving to be a particularly warm autumn in Spain, but the following ski resorts have released their scheduled starts to the ski season.

Baqueira Beret (Pyrenees): November 26th, 2021 to April 18th, 2022, which would add up to 144 days of skiing . However, Beret ski resort is scheduled to close on March 27th.

Sierra de Béjar – La Covatilla (Castilla y León): not confirmed but expected opening in December.

San Isidro and Valle de Laciana-Leitariegos (Castilla y León): if snow conditions allow it, these two ski resorts in León province will open on Saturday November 27th and end on April 17th 2022. 

Sierra Nevada (Andalusia): this incredible resort in southern Spain is scheduled to open to skiers on November 27th.

Grandvalira and Ordino Arcalís: The Andorran ski resort of Grandvalira will likely open from December 3rd to April 18th whereas neighbouring Ordino Arcalís will open from November 27th to April 24th adding 150 days (22 weekends) of skiing.

Sweden

Sweden’s ski season hasn’t got under way yet, but here’s what we know so far.

Skistar, the company that operates most of Sweden’s main ski resorts, including Åre and Sälen, says it will be following the Swedish health authorities’ guidelines. Those guidelines currently state that unvaccinated people should keep a distance to other people if possible, and both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should stay at home if they develop symptoms of a respiratory infection.

Skistar has also urged visitors to use its app or website to pre-book activities, and says that check-ins and check-outs at its hotels will be carried out digitally if possible.

Photo by Olivier CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

Sweden no longer has laws or guidelines in place that impose customer or opening hour curbs on restaurants, and there is neither a face mask mandate in place nor a requirement to show a Covid pass once in Sweden – if you’re travelling to Sweden you may have to present a pass on the border depending on which country you enter Sweden from.

Sweden’s current entry rules are in place until October 31st, and the government has at the time of writing not said whether they will be extended or amended. You can find out what applies to you (at least until October 31st) on the police authority’s website.

Germany 

Germany’s ski season hasn’t started yet but this is what we know far. The season is expected to open under Germany’s ‘3G’ Covid health pass rules. That means that only people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 (geimpft in the German language), those who’ve recovered from Covid (genesen) or people who’ve tested negatively for Covid (getestet) can use indoor facilities like cable cars.  

Children up to six-years-old and school pupils will be exempt, reports the German motoring association ADAC which regularly reports on travel rules. Masks will be compulsory in all lifts. How compliance with the Covid rules will be monitored has not yet been clarified.

States in Germany have been allowed to choose whether businesses – like restaurants, cafes and culture facilities – use the 3G rule – or if they can be given the option to offer the more restrictive 2G rule (meaning only the vaccinated and people who’ve recovered from Covid) can use facilities. 

So keep in mind that there could be differences in how businesses operate depending on the German state. 

Germany is also considering ending its ‘pandemic state of emergency’ on November 25th. It’s not clear how this would impact current restrictions, but measures – like mandatory masks in certain indoor public spaces and entry rules – are expected to continue.  

Keep in mind that there are strict entry rules on travelling to Germany from abroad. 

The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, will be the first ski area in Germany to start winter sports operations on November 19th. 


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