The European ski season is upon us again and after the pandemic closures of 2020, many skiers are desperate to hit the slopes.
But with Austria back in nationwide lockdown and with the number of COVIDs on the rise across Europe, is your ski vacation safe?
We spoke to ski operators and travel experts to give you information on your ski vacation in Europe.
What are the current restrictions in Austria?
Austria is in national containment until December 12 and travelers are only allowed to enter the country for work, study or family reasons. Tourists are not allowed to enter Austria while the lockdown is in place. Hotels, restaurants and bars are also closed.
But several ski resorts remain open for locals because skiing is classified as “outdoor recreation”.
If you live in Austria, you will need proof that you are fully vaccinated or cured from COVID-19, as well as an FFP2 mask. The following stations are currently open:
What about the rest of Europe?
Travel operator Inghams is optimistic that the majority of ski vacations can go ahead despite the fifth wave hitting the continent.
âThe news of the lockdown in Austria is of course concerning, being so close to the start of the winter ski season, but we remain optimistic for the winter ahead. We have countless contingencies foreseen and are arguably better prepared than ever before, âsaid Joe Ponte, CEO of Hotelplan UK, the parent company of Ingham.
“In the meantime, our customers can rest assured that we continue to monitor the situation closely and when it is safe, we will be ready to deliver the ski vacation people want.”
Will the Italian ski season continue?
Italy recently tightened its COVID-19 restrictions, but if you’re double-bitten, that shouldn’t be a problem for you.
The country is launching a âgreen super passâ on December 6. This requires people to prove their vaccine status, or that they have recovered from COVID-19, to access a range of places, including ski lifts, restaurants and bars.
âWe know there are a lot of people looking to get away for a ski vacation this year, having missed so many people last season. But as with all travel, there are always risks with COVID, âsaid Ana Davis, CEO of the ski travel company, Altitude skiing, which offer skiers prepaid ski passes without prior reservation.
âIf you are booking it is important to make sure you are booking trips with cancellation policies and to avoid reserving passes in advance. “
Is my ski vacation in Switzerland safe?
It is a mixed picture in Switzerland.
Due to the Omicron variant, arrivals from the UK, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi must present a negative COVID-19 test and be quarantined for ten days upon arrival. This will make ski vacations impossible for many.
Since November 28, tourists from other countries have been free to visit the many Swiss alpine resorts provided they can provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
Switzerland has a regularly updated list of authorized countries, which you can find here.
âReservations are busier than any previous year as skiers are avid enthusiasts and after a year of absence we are desperate to return to the mountains,â says Richard Sinclair of the ski tour operator. sno.
âSkiing for adults is easy all over Europe – if you’re completely vaxxed, you can travel and ski. For children under 12 with bitten adults, they are fine as well, while teens without their second stroke need a negative test either to enter the country, or to access restaurants, ski lifts, or both.
How is it going in France?
France has just ruled out more lockdowns and restrictions (as of November 25), but the country is rolling out booster injections at all ages in an effort to combat the increase in the number of cases.
This is good news for anyone who has booked a ski holiday in the French Alps. All skiers need to do is provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
What are ski operators doing to reassure customers?
Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID restrictions this winter, many tour operators are offering extended cancellation policies. Some companies also offer travelers the option of rebooking in another country if the chosen destination is blocked.
“If your tour operator cannot offer you your vacation, they should offer you an alternative or a refund, but they are unlikely to do so if you could have followed the rules, for example by getting vaccinated, but choosing not to do it, âsays Sinclair.
âChecking whether you need a visa or a yellow fever / rabies / covid vaccine to enter a country has always been the responsibility of the traveler and that will not change. “
You can find regular updates on all European travel restrictions here.