New ski rules in France announce late afternoon – but capacity on the slopes will not be reduced

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SThe bosses of ki resort in France have revealed a series of Covid security measures for a holiday in the Alps and the Pyrenees this winter.The biggest changes will take place in restaurants and bars, where the future of traditional après-ski hangs in the balance. Venues will be required to operate only table service – meaning the crowded terraces of revelers who drink and dance will, at least temporarily, be lost due to the pandemic.

When entering a bar or restaurant, visitors should wear a mask until they are seated. The tables will be one meter apart or separated by screens to respect social distancing rules.

These rules echo those announced in Austria last week, where Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said: “There will be no après-ski as we know it from earlier.

Despite speculation, the capacity on the slopes and ski lifts will not be reduced in the Alps. At a roundtable of industry leaders organized by The Oxford Ski Company, Caroline Famy of the Courchevel Tourist Office, which is part of the world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées, confirmed that the number of skiers will not be hampered this season. “Of course, the ski resort will open… we have already organized our sanitation measures and these will be adapted to the evolution of the situation,” she said.

The capacity on the elevators will not be reduced but masks will be mandatory

“Regarding the ski lifts, there will be no restriction on the number of people per cabin, the only restriction you will have is to wear a mask in the queue and in the elevator.”

In France, a number of new measures will be introduced in gondolas and chairlifts, revealed in an infographic to simplify the new rules for customers. To ensure that social distancing is maintained at all times, there will be one-way systems, regular disinfection of cubicles and chairs, often using misting machines, disinfection points at entrances and exits, and masks will be mandatory when waiting in line and driving in the elevator.

Once on the mountain, while there will be no cap on the number of people, skiing and snowboarding naturally lend themselves to social distancing. However, to further avoid crowds and queues, many well-equipped resorts encourage visitors to pre-book their ski passes online and collect them upon arrival on contactless machines. Tour operators also offer services where passes can be purchased in advance and delivered to chalets or hotels, without having to wait at a ticket office.

“We want to reassure our customers that French ski resorts will be fully open without any capacity restriction in the ski areas. Skiing is of course primarily an outdoor activity and no face mask should be worn while skiing and during ski lessons. Bars, restaurants and ski rental shops will be open, ”said Jean-Marc Silva, executive director of France Montagnes, the association of French ski resorts responsible for announcing the new rules.

The future of wild après-ski parties looks uncertain

Credit:
Laurent Salino

Many French ski resorts were able to reopen during the summer months, when they welcomed walkers, climbers and cyclists in the mountains. This gave them experience and time to put new measures in place. In winter, there will inevitably be more to do, but the owners are convinced that the skiing experience will be no less pleasant. “It’s not that different from life in the UK right now,” Ken Smith of Progression Ski School said at the Oxford Ski Expert Roundtable.

Ski schools will also bring new rules. Masks will be mandatory at the start and end of the course, when traditionally large groups form at a meeting point. However, they will not be needed once the course is in progress and the course is on the slopes. Individual ski schools can choose to limit their class sizes, with many already operating groups of up to four or six.

Masks will not be compulsory during the lessons

At equipment rental stores, where staff will receive full training on regular disinfection protocols, masks will also be mandatory for customers. Equipment will be cleaned before and after use and skiers are again encouraged to book online in advance. Masks will also be required on ski buses and in all public areas of hotels and apartment buildings. These rules follow the broader guidelines in place across France.

In its latest announcement, France Montagnes also reminds British holidaymakers of the importance of having valid and sufficient travel insurance. ‘Please note that at present the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid for travel after December 31, 2020, once the UK leaves the European Union,’ reads -on in a press release.



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