Swiss ski resorts are ploughing ahead with preparations for the year-end holiday season despite pressure from neighbouring Italy, France and Germany to shut until the latest coronavirus wave passes. Health Minister Alain Berset has proposed limits on the capacity of ski lifts at Christmas and the New Year, but lift operators and mountain regions who already expect many foreign visitors to stay away during the festive period bristle at added restrictions.
Eloi Rossier, mayor of Bagnes below the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, acknowledged feeling the heat from other countries, but said that his town’s ski economy was too important to simply call off the season, especially given measures the resort was taking to keep people safe.
He expects up to 45,000 people over Christmas and New Year, fewer than normal due to “a lot of cancellations.
“There is an economic aspect that we cannot deny, it is extremely important,” Rossier said. “But it is not skiing that’s dangerous for transmitting the virus, but the stuff that comes after skiing, the apres-ski. And here we took extremely strict measures to limit…the risks.”
France, with no skiing before January, plans border checks to deter people, President Emmanuel Macron said, while Germany’s Bavaria state is considering similar spot checks followed by a 14-day quarantine upon return.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government announced on Wednesday that the nation’s ski resorts could open starting Dec. 24 for locals and day trippers, with hotels and restaurants closed, and new, stricter quarantine rules adopted to discourage visitors from abroad.