Austria’s ski resorts were reopened on Dec. 24 as planned, and videos showed that they welcomed plenty of local tourists, as hotels and restaurants have remained closed. A further restriction came from the government’s decision to ban non-essential retailing, including the sale of skis and other sports products, at physical stores from Dec. 26 though Jan. 17. This third coronavirus-related lockdown may be extended until Jan. 24 depending on the number of people being tested positive or refusing to be tested.
In Switzerland, where some English tourists are reported to have escaped quarantines to be able to ski, most of the major ski areas remain open, but at least one in the Valais has imposed quotas on the number of skiers admitted to its slopes, and some smaller ones have decided to keep them closed. This may be related to a requirement that the country’s cantons must ensure sufficient capacities for testing and hospitalization in their territories. On the other hand, tighter regulations are being enforced on the ski facilities that are still running. In addition to requiring the use of face masks even on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, the maximum capacity of passengers in closed ski cabins has been lowered from one half to two thirds.
Meanwhile, Italy’s scientific committee (CTS) has recommended tighter restrictions on the operation of ski lifts in connection with the ongoing pandemic situation. Ski resorts in the country are currently shut and are due to reopen on Jan. 7, but the guidelines that regional authorities submitted for this purpose at the end of November have not fully convinced the committee. Concerns have been raised in particular because of the similarities, and the associated risks under pandemic circumstances, between transportation systems like cable cars in ski resorts and buses or trams in urban areas, all of which may lead to risky gatherings of people, the committee said. Regional authorities will submit new guidelines for review shortly, which the scientific committee is expected to evaluate at the beginning of the new year.