Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on skiing holidays.
For much of the last year ‘will skiing happen in 2021/22’ was a question on everyone’s lips. The answer currently stands at a tentative: yes. However, if you do manage to make it out to a ski resort this year, things won’t be operating in the same way as when you were last there. Ski resorts within the same country or even within the same region, are differing greatly on what rules they have in place, so the number one piece of advice is to do your homework!
Are ski resorts going to open in 2021/22?
Yes, ski resorts are open throughout Europe. Some had their initial opening dates pushed back by “firebreak” lockdowns, such as in Austria and Slovakia.
How Omicron impacts ski holidays
The recent discovery and spread of the Omicron variant has had a huge impact for travelling abroad.
The UK Government announced that all international travellers into the UK need to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests before flying. Travellers need to show negative proof from a negative lateral flow or PCR test from 48 hours before departure time. This not only increases the cost of holidays abroad – in France, prices for a lateral flow start at €20 per person – it also risks travellers being refused to board their flight home should they test positive. British Airways described these new rules as: “a devastating blow for everyone who works in the travel industry.” So while you still can go skiing this winter, there are serious risks and costs involved.
6 January 2022 update: This rule will no longer apply from Friday 7 January.
As Omicron surged through the UK, France and Germany banned British travellers specifically from visiting. There are exceptions made for citizens and residents of those countries. Furthermore, the French ban differs subtly from the German one. The French ban only applies to those in direct transit – therefore you could travel via Geneva and drive onwards to a French resort. However, that would be against the spirit of the restrictions. Meanwhile, the German ban applies to anyone who has been in the UK in the last 10 days.
6 January 2022 update: Germany’s ban ended as of the 5th January.
Do I need a negative test to go skiing?
The number one piece of advice for anyone hoping to go skiing, is to be vaccinated against covid. Vitally, it will help protect you and those around you from the virus. However, it will also make travel a lot easier and less costly, as PCR test prices can increase the cost of a family holiday by £400.
You won’t even be able to go skiing in Spain without being double jabbed. Spain announced a ban on all non-vaccinated travellers over the age of 12 from 1 December. This obviously causes issues for British teenagers, some of whom are currently only eligible for their first jab, but Spain is not making any exceptions.
How covid affects skiing on the slopes
If you do make it out to the slopes, proof of vaccination is essential as many ski lifts will no longer accept a negative PCR test. Even before you get to the lifts, proof of vaccination makes international travel much easier. Wherever you’re travelling, be sure to check the UK Government’s advice for that country first.
Many ski resorts may limit the number of lift passes sold and will require you to wear masks on chairlifts/gondolas, in lift queues and in indoor public spaces (with social distancing at 1m minimum). You’ll possibly find resorts are running gondolas with reduced capacity but at a faster speed. Ski lessons might have reduced numbers and in-resort childcare options may be limited or cancelled altogether.
Apres-ski could be much quieter this year and numbers at bars limited to prevent crowds – if they’re allowed to open at all, Austria’s are currently shut. Mountain huts will almost certainly be outside-only dining or takeaways and all music and ski events will be cancelled. Many resorts will also ask skiers to download an app to make reservations and order food in restaurants.
As far as ski accommodation is concerned, self-catering will be many people’s first choice. If you go for a hotel or shared chalet be prepared for less choice – there will be fewer large chalets available and some operators like Crystal Ski are not offering catered chalets this season. Some VIP chalets are asking guests to pre-order meals in advance to remove the need for an in-house chef.
How to stay safe on the ski slopes
If you do decide to travel to a ski resort, try to limit your chances of catching Covid-19 by not travelling on Saturdays (busiest days); try to book accommodation (self-catering if possible) near the slopes so you don’t have to use ski buses; take a packed lunch up the mountain rather than visiting a ski hut; and reserve your ski equipment ahead of time so you don’t have to spend time looking around a ski hire shop. Some resorts will be giving out free “buffs” (tubular scarfs) with your ski pass to enable you to cover your face and mouth.
NOTE: If you decide to travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is even more important that you have appropriate travel insurance.
The coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing and evolving situation. We will keep this article updated throughout the 21/22 season as things change.