Ski areas are opening for the 21-22 season across the Alps.  Something that didn’t happen this time last year in countries like France, Germany and Italy.

So far so good, except for the hopefully quick lockdown in Austria anyway, but each ski nation has different rules as to what they require of skiers and boarders to get on the slopes.

And the rules keep changing depending on local infection levels from one week to the next.

In Italy you need to show proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or of a recent negative test result. In Germany you can now only ski if you’re vaccinated or recovered from as recent infection, having a negative test result is no longer enough, though you now also need that even if vaccinated, and dated within the previous 24 hours.

In France there’s widespread speculation that like Italy and Austria skiers will soon gave to show the health pass as in Italy.  The rules are that comes in if infection rates average 200 per 100,000 people, and they’re about there now.

The Oxygene Ski School, which works in 14 leading French resorts, is among organisations that have published Covid guide to the start of winter in the French Alps that cover all the other rules.

Here’s what they say:

Whilst technically ski resorts in France were open last winter, the ski lifts were not. This year, the French government has stated that ski resorts and lifts will operate as usual, but under certain restrictions, depending on case numbers. Wearing a face mask is mandatory inside all public places and on public transport, including closed lifts such as gondolas for anyone over 11 years old and recommended from 6 years of age on.

Technical information on face masks: Skiers and snowboarders are required to wear a surgical mask or a category 1 fabric mask (AFNOR SPEC S76-001 certification). Concerning neck warmers, only those that are filtering and approved will be authorized as an alternative to masks. Masks suitable for skiing that are certified neck warmers can be used if they meet minimum requirements, ideal for pulling above the nose while in a ski lift queue. Oxygene has its own version which can be purchased in resort for 15€.

For countries on France’s Amber List (which currently includes the UK), only fully vaccinated travellers are allowed in, unless it’s for ‘essential’ reasons. Proof of vaccination must be shown along with a declaration that there are no symptoms of Covid being experienced.

The Pass Sanitaire is then required to access bars and restaurants (including outdoors), but not shops such as supermarkets, although a mask must be worn.

The Pass Sanitaire health pass currently means loading a QR code into the AntiCovid app; either vaccinated, recently recovered from Covid or a negative test (less than 72h for PCR or 48 hrs for a lateral flow).  It’s already required to show in mountain restaurants.

On top of the legal requirements most ski businesses in France are doing more. In Oxygene’s case this includes:

•             Regular disinfection of sales counters and points of contact in all our Oxygene shops and offices.

•             Alcohol-based hand sanitiser available in all Oxygene shops and offices

•             Reminders to respect ‘social distancing’ space between each other

•             Encourage hands-free payment and try to limit payments in cash