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What are the Covid rules for skiing in Spain this winter?

The winter ski season in Spain is upon us, and with many more people travelling this holiday than last year, people will want to know how the latest Covid rules may impact their winter ski break. Here's everything you need to know.

skiing in Spain
Covid-19 rules for skiing in Spain. Photo: Pexels/Pixabay

The rules for skiing this winter largely depend on which region in Spain you plan on visiting, as each has implemented slightly different measures.

Currently, no ski resorts in Spain require the Digital Covid Certificate in order to gain access to them, but they may require them for certain activities within the ski resorts. 

READ ALSO: How to get Spain’s Covid health pass for daily affairs in your region

In Catalonia, the regional government requires a Digital Covid Certificate to access the interiors of bars and restaurants in ski resorts. Nightlife venues are currently closed. This will stay in place until at least January 20th.  

As per the Aragonese government rules, the ski stations in the Pyrenees in this region only request the Covid passport to attend celebrations in hotel and restaurant venues and mass events (more than 500 people gather in closed spaces or more than 1,000 in open spaces).

They also require them for après ski nightlife venues. These rules will stay in place until January 8th 2022, but may be extended if the courts grant permission. 

Currently, the Digital Covid Certificate is not necessary to ski in the Sierra Nevada, but it is necessary to access the restaurants and bars there.

READ ALSO – MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

Capacity restrictions 

Currently, there are no capacity restrictions, beyond what is normal, at any of Spain’s ski resorts. The capacity for chair and ski lifts also remains the same as normal. This is because the distance between the seats already complies with those established by the authorities, due to the space occupied by skis and snowboards.

The use of masks 

Mask rules are the same throughout Spain no matter which resort you’re visiting. Masks are again required outside when a distance between people can’t be maintained and at all times in closed spaces in ski resorts. 

This includes meeting points at ski schools, inside buildings, in public transport, bars and restaurants (when not eating or drinking), in the queue for the ski lifts and at the ski lifts, as well as at the lockers and equipment rental places. 

READ ALSO – KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK?

What if I cross the border into Andorra for skiing?

If you’re planning on heading up to Andorra for winter sports, you’ll find the rules slightly different there. The Government of Andorra has recently tightened its Covid measures and now requires a Covid pass in order to access all the facilities in its ski resorts.

Wearing a mask is also necessary for closed areas of ski resorts including the lifts, but not when actually skiing. Nightlife venues there have been closed and there is a capacity limit in restaurants of 50 percent indoors and 70 percent outdoors until further notice. A maximum of six can sit per table indoors and 10 on terraces.

Which ski resorts are open in Spain?

Baqueira Beret, Catalan Pyrenees
The resort opened on November 27th, 2021. Baqueira is scheduled to stay open until April 18th, 2022, while 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. 
Formigal – Panticosa, Aragón
Aragón’s best ski resort opened on December 3rd and is scheduled to close on April 17th, 2022. 
San Isidro and Valle de Laciana-Leitariegos (Castilla y León)
These ski resorts opened on December 1st and if conditions allow, will close on April 17th, 2022.
Sierra Nevada, Andalusia
This beautiful ski resort near Granada opened to skiers on November 24th and is expected to close on April 18th, 2022. 
Grandvalira and Ordino Arcalís, Andorra
The Andorran ski resort of Grandvalira opened on December 3rd and will stay open until April 18th, whereas neighbouring Ordino Arcalís opened on November 27th and will close on April 24th, 2022. 

Travelling to Spain for skiing

All international arrivals by air or sea to Spain, regardless of where they’re from, have to fill in a health control form on the Spain Travel Health app or website before travelling. 

Travellers from EU countries can enter with their EU Digital Covid Certificates which indicate if they have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or have a negative Covid-19 test. 

If you have not been vaccinated, whether you need to take a PCR or antigen test beforehand will depend on where you’re travelling from in the EU. 

Spain’s Health Ministry has a list of high-risk areas in the EU which it updates weekly. You can check the latest update here under “listado de países/zonas de riesgo”.

If your country or region is on the list, then you’ll need to get tested if you haven’t been fully vaccinated. 

Accepted tests include PCR or antigen tests, which have to be carried out within 72 or 48 hours respectively prior to your arrival in Spain.

If you’re travelling from a third country outside the EU, including the UK, you must be fully vaccinated in order to enter Spain (this includes everyone over the age of 12), unless you are travelling from a destination on the list of third countries whose travellers are exempt from the usual requirements (vaccination, testing) due to their favourable epidemiological situation. This does not apply to Spanish citizens and residents of Spain. 

If you’re travelling from a country on the Spanish Health Ministry’s high-risk list, then as well as your vaccination certificate, you will have to present a negative PCR or NAAT test taken within 72 hours prior to travel to Spain.

Those travelling from the UK for skiing in Spain, as of January 7th 2022, will also now not need a pre-departure test to travel back home, but they will still need to book a Day 2 PCR test. 

READ ALSO – KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK?

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.