The atmosphere at European ski resorts usually is magical during the holidays but not so much this year. France, Italy, Germany and Austria have shuttered their ski/snowboard operations, at least temporarily, to help curb the spread of Covid. Of course, U.S. citizens are barred from entering EU countries anyway.
The ski experience in the U.S. during the holidays also will be much different than in previous years.Interestingly enough, European and U.S. resorts are taking somewhat different approaches in their battle to curtail the virus during the holidays. The actual lifts in the four popular previously mentioned Alpine countries are shut down due to mandates from each country’s government.
In the U.S. there is no national mandate. There have been no reports yet of lifts shutting down at U.S. resorts but some states highly affected by the virus are instituting rigid guidelines for travelers and businesses. The situation can change from day to day and the virus vaccine will not be available in time to impact skiers and snowboarders this winter.
Vermont has a strict quarantine advisory in effect although it is unclear how it is being monitored. The Vermont “Official State Website” says that its leisure travel map has been suspended. The site has detailed information about the state’s Covid situation, business operations and travel restrictions. The Ski Vermont website offers a plethora of information as well.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been on the forefront of keeping a lid on the virus and a number of mandates have been issued by his office. The New York State government website has extensive information about restrictions. The iskiny.com website offers a thorough description of what to anticipate at resorts.
Colorado ski resorts are opening up. Vail made headlines recently with the long lines of people waiting to get on the mountain base gondola. Speaking of gondolas, Telluride is converting gondola cars into dining facilities, according to The Snow Report. The Colorado Ski Country website provides updated information on the state’s resorts and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment website includes a map showing virus data trends for all Colorado counties.
California’s new regional “stay-at-home” order also made headlines. A recent article in the L A Times noted that Mammoth Mountain, Lake Tahoe and other California ski resorts are open. However, skiers, boarders and leisure travelers are banned from overnight lodge stays in Southern California and the Eastern Sierra. A similar ban affects the Greater Sacramento area, which includes Tahoe. The Ski California website stays up to date with the latest information about its member resorts.
OnTheSnow.com updates its list of open U.S. ski resorts daily.
Meanwhile in Europe, lift closings in France, Germany, Italy and Austria are costing the countries and their resorts billions of Euros in lost revenue, according to a recent CNN post. French President Emmanuel Macron announced, to the dismay of many, the closure of the country’s ski resorts for the normally busy Christmas period and protests are erupting over the situation.
As of December 15, the French government ended the country’s national lockdown and now allowing travel to the mountains but the lifts are still closed, according to an article in Planetski.
Consequently, the contrast between the town of Megeve in France and Verbier in Switzerland is akin to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. For Megeve, it is the worst of times bringing Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, to tears. She fears that many of the town’s businesses will not survive.
For Verbier, Switzerland, it may be the best of times. Switzerland is not part of the EU and its slopes are open for business. Just 60 miles from Megeve, in the same mountains, Verbier’s chairlifts will continue carrying people up into the vast 4-Vallees ski area although masks are required along with other actions as Switzerland’s Covid numbers creep.
Austria has resisted closing resort lifts all along and, although they currently are shut, the lifts will again operate to allow Austrians access to the slopes starting December 24. However, hotels are closed to leisure travellers/tourists until 6 January 2021. Restaurants can only offer takeout/delivery services until 6 January 2021. The Austria website has details.
Most Europeans and much of the world remembers Austria’s Ischgl from last spring when the tine mountain resort was deemed an epicenter for the virus’ spread in Europe. Despite the precautions being taken by the four popular Western European Alpine countries, a number of other European countries are continuing operations.