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What are the Covid rules in place at ski resorts 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 winter spike in Covid infections across Europe means another ski season will take place under health restrictions and recommendations. Here's what you need to know about the rules in different countries.

Austria

Austria’s Tourism Minister summed up the country’s approach to winter tourism as “strict rules, safe winter”, but the rules have been tightened further several times through the winter.

Proof of either full vaccination against Covid-19 or recovery from the virus (called 2G in Austria and Germany, which stands for ‘Vaccinated or Recovered) will be mandatory for tourists in cable cars. Negative tests are not sufficient proof, except in some specific situations such as with an official proof of medical exemption from vaccination. FFP2 masks are also required in cable cars and all other enclosed areas.

Children under 12 are exempt from the 2G requirement. Teenagers aged 12-18 can either use proof of vaccination if they have received at least two doses, or otherwise they can use the ‘Holiday Ninja Pass’ scheme (see the English version here and an FAQ here) to enter 2G venues by using negative tests. 

Apres-ski venues meanwhile are completely closed as of late December, with no set date for their re-opening. Ordinary restaurants are open with a curfew of 10pm.

Note that individual states may introduce their own additional rules going beyond those that apply nationally. For example Vienna has stricter rules around testing for children and teenagers.

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

Photo: Julien Flutto/Unsplash

France

Not everyone is welcome in French ski resorts this winter as unvaccinated travellers from orange countries and red list countries can only travel to France for essential reasons – which does not include a quick whizz down the slopes. Travellers from the UK, whether vaccinated or not, cannot currently travel to France for tourism, although these rules are gradually being relaxed

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 is required to use ski lifts.

In addition to this, the standard French health rules will apply. This means that the health pass 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 24 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. The French health pass soon be transformed into a vaccine pass, meaning that a negative Covid test will no longer be accepted. Visitors may also need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated. 

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, including those covered by the health pass. Many local authorities – particularly in busy ski resorts – have imposed extra rules that require masks outdoors as well.

There are no medical exemptions to mask-wearing and failure to wear a mask can net you a €135 fine.

Photo: 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. Swiss ski resorts have voluntarily decided to put in place capacity restrictions in chairlifts and gondolas to reduce the risk of Covid spread. 

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.

Where a ski resort straddles a border with another country with stricter measures, such as Austria, then stricter measures including a Covid certificate are required. 

Winter sports: Which Swiss ski resorts open earliest?

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Norway

Ski lifts are open in Norway, but several national restrictions will impact life on the slopes.

Firstly there is a national ban on the sale of alcohol in restaurants, cafes and lodges. This means that some after-ski venues have chosen to close their doors

Restaurants are required to register guests contact details, provided consent to do so is given, and people must social distance and use a facemask unless seated.

Additionally, people need to wear facemasks in shops. Those using public transport, such as ski shuttle buses, also need to wear facemasks.

Similar rules apply to reception areas and medical centres.

People are recommended to keep a social distance from those not in the same household on the slopes themselves.

Resort operators have their systems for ensuring this is maintained while queuing for lifts and gondolas. Generally speaking, they will have one free seat between those taking chair lifts if they are not from the same household.

The current national infection control measures will be in place until January 14th before being reassessed.

There are no curbs on who can enter Norway, but the testing and quarantine rules are tighter for travellers who either are not fully vaccinated or have access to an approved Covid-19 certificate, such as the EU UK Covid passes.

If you do not meet these requirements, you will need to test before travelling to Norway, at the border after arriving, and then quarantine. This is in addition to registering your entry into the country.

If you are fully vaccinated, you will need to register your entry and test at the border.

Photo: Raymond Roig/AFP

Italy

Italy’s government did not initially set out specific rules for ski slopes or resort operators this ski season, 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.

However, as infection rates surged in November and December, the authorities introduced additional rules that encompassed ski resorts.

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.

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.

Previously a basic ‘green pass’, which can also be obtained via a negative Covid test result, was all that was needed to go skiing 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).

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

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. 

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.

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

At indoor bars and restaurants, the ‘super green pass’ is now a requirement for all customers aged over 12 under nationwide rules set by the government. From January 10th, the vaccine pass will also be required for customers sitting in outdoor areas at restaurants – until then, no pass of any kind is required for outdoor dining.

Those arriving in Italy from elsewhere in the EU, as well as 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: Jörg Angeli/Unsplash

Spain

The rules for skiing this winter largely depend on which region in Spain you plan on visiting, as each has implemented slightly different measures. The country’s main ski slopes are located in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Aragón and Catalonia. Click here for rules and restrictions in each of these regions. 

Currently, no ski resorts in Spain require the Digital Covid Certificate in order to gain access to them, but they are required in many regions for certain activities within the ski resorts such as gaining access to restaurants, cafés, nightlife venues or other indoor spaces, as is the case in other countries. 

Masks are again required outside when a distance between people can’t be maintained, as well as indoors. This means that they will be required in the queues for the ski lifts and at the ski lifts, as well as at the lockers and equipment rental places.

Masks are also required at all times in closed spaces in ski resorts such meeting points at ski schools, inside buildings, in public transport and in bars and restaurants (when not eating or drinking). 

The following ski resorts are open and have released their schedules:

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.

La Molina – Masella (Catalan Pyrenees): These twin resorts, accessible on a day trip from Barcelona, opened on November 27th and are scheduled to stay open until April 18th, 2022. 

San Isidro and Valle de Laciana-Leitariegos (Castilla y León): These two ski resorts in León province will stay open until April 17th 2022. 

Sierra Nevada (Andalusia): this incredible resort in southern Spain will stay open until April 18th, 2022. 

Grandvalira and Ordino Arcalís: The Andorran ski resort of Grandvalira will stay open until April 18th, whereas neighbouring Ordino Arcalís will stay open until April 24th adding 150 days (22 weekends) of skiing.

Sweden

Skistar, the company that operates most of Sweden’s main ski resorts, including Åre and Sälen, says it is following the Swedish health authorities’ guidelines. It urges everyone to “keep a distance and avoid crowding, stay at home if you feel ill in the slightest, get tested and protect yourself and other people by getting vaccinated against Covid-19”.

Skistar also urges visitors to use its app or website to pre-book activities, and says that check-ins and check-outs at its hotels are carried out digitally.

Photo: Olivier Chassignole/AFP

At the time of writing there is no Covid vaccine pass requirement at restaurants, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the government has warned this may be in the pipeline. Vaccine passes could also get rolled out to other venues, such as leisure and shopping centres, and long-distance public transport.

Public events with more than 20 guests are only allowed to take place if all guests are seated, and organisers must either require a vaccine pass or place groups of guests at least one metre away from each other, with a limit of eight people per group.

If you don’t have a vaccine pass, this may affect your ability to go to the cinema, or even to a restaurant or bar if the venue also puts on a public event. Bars and restaurants may only serve seated guests, which means any dancing at nightclubs is not permitted.

Note that not all foreign vaccine passes are valid in Sweden. You can read more HERE.

There are strict rules on entering Sweden from abroad, and all foreign tourists must (if they are exempt from the general entry ban) show a negative Covid-19 test no older than 48 hours. If you travel to the ski resort on crowded public transport, you are urged to use a face mask.

Germany 

Germany’s ski resorts remain open (at least most of them) but there are restrictions in place – and these differ depending on the state. 

In Bavaria, which is home to the well-known Zugspitze ski resort, there is a 2G rule in place on cable cars and other lift facilities. It means access is permitted only for people who are fully vaccinated (geimpft) or recovered. People who choose not to be vaccinated are not allowed to enter. 

In the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, home to Feldberg, there are currently 2G-plus rules, which means vaccinated and recovered people also have to show a negative test, unless they can show proof of their booster jab. 

Saxony’s ski resorts are closed until at least January 9th due to the Covid situation there.

Medical masks area also generally mandatory in public indoor areas in Germany including ski lifts. 

READ ALSO: What are the Covid rules for Germany’s ski resorts?

Keep in mind that nationwide there are 2G rules for entering non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, culture and leisure facilities. They may be tightened to 2G-plus, which means vaccinated and recovered people would also have to show proof of a negative Covid test before entering, unless they’ve had a booster shot.

Some businesses, like hotels and restaurants, already opt for 2G-plus rules so check before visiting. 

There are also strict entry rules on travelling to Germany from abroad.


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