Governmental guidelines for the closure of ski facilities to prevent Covid-19 infections continue to go in different directions in Europe. On Dec. 3, the government of Andorra said that its facilities will remain closed until the beginning of January and that the exact date of their re-opening may vary depending on sanitary and snow conditions, as well as on travel restrictions at the time.
Andorra had previously sided with the autonomous state of Catalonia in allowing their respective ski resorts in the Pyrenees to open from Dec. 9. The little independent state on the border between France and Spain hosts what it claims is the biggest ski station in Europe, Grandvalira, with 139 slopes on 210 square kilometers of skiable territory.
The government of Andorra said it was taking this decision on the principle of maintaining a “good neighborhood” with the government of France, which has ordered a ban on the use of ski lifts and cable cars for alpine skiing until sometime in January.
Meanwhile, the Italian government has confirmed in a decree that the country’s ski facilities as well as its gyms will not open until at least Jan. 7, or possibly Jan. 15. With the number of daily deaths coming close to 1,000,more than during the first wave of the pandemic, it is banning travel from one region to another. It has also indicated that it will take measures to prevent Italian residents from going to ski in other countries, forbidding them for that purpose to cross the border into Switzerland, where there is still no such ban, or into Austria, which has decided to let the country’s ski resorts open from Dec. 24, while keeping hotels and restaurants closed.
Obviously, winter tourism is very important for the economy and for sports retailers in both Switzerland and Austria, but the same goes for Andorra. It is relatively less important in Bulgaria and Sweden, where there is nonetheless no ban on alpine skiing for the moment.
The German government, which has pleaded for a European consensus on the subject, has extended its ban on skiing until Jan. 12. On Dec. 3, one day after making this decision, Germany was heavily criticized in a previously planned digital conference on “Dein Winter, Dein Sport” (Your Winter, Your Sport), where one of the speakers noted that 13 percent of the German people ski.