France and Austria release Covid ski measures

29th September 2020, by Abi Butcher

Snow fell in the Alps down to 1500m last week: this is La Plagne

Snow fell in the Alps down to 1500m last week: this is La Plagne

With fresh snowfall across the Alps last week thoughts are turning to skiing and guidance on keeping skiers safeguarded from Covid-19 have been released from the French and Austrian governments.

This advice has been tried and tested by ski resorts in both countries that have operated summer glacier skiing. Indeed, a handful of Austrian (and Swiss) resorts are operating already, including Hintertux and Pitztal, with Sölden due to open this weekend and in France, Tignes will open in 10 days’ time followed shortly by Les Deux Alpes.

At the time of writing (Tuesday 29 September) guidelines released by the Austrian have been released to help keep visitors safe and ski resorts open. These include a minimum of 1m distance between groups during après-ski, with fixed seating and no standing — and singing, dancing and standing close together prohibited and a closing time of 1am or 10pm in the states of Salzburgerland, Tirol and Voralberg, so the vibe will be very different this year. Restaurants can only seat a maximum of ten per group (not counting children) and food and drink can only be seated in designated areas — with face coverings to be worn until guests are seated.

In Austria, skiers must stand a minimum 1m away from others, and wear face protection while in lifts. In ski school, groups will be a maximum of ten (including the instructor) and face masks must be worn when it’s not possible to maintain a minimum distance of 1m — for example when helping after a fall. Rental equipment must be regularly disinfected.

All employees in the service industry in Austria will be regularly Covid tested, including ski instructors.

In France, on 29 September, wearing face masks is compulsory on public transport and in all communal and enclosed spaces, including accommodation, bars and restaurants. The latter must operate table service only, with tables a minimum of 1m apart. Ski lifts are being prepared with single-directional movement and flow management in lift queues, along with obligatory mask wearing and regular cleaning of all ‘contact points’. Hand gel will be made available everywhere, including in ski rental shops where equipment will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

In ski schools in France, any skiers and snowboarders aged over 11 years old must wear a mask but this can be removed on the slopes. This must be placed over the mouth and nose once inside.

At the time of writing, both France and Austria are still on the UK government’s quarantine list, so anyone travelling to these countries must quarantine for 14 days on their return.

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