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Snow-Forecast’s Rolling News on Ski Resorts Re-Opening (2020-21)

Last Updated 27 February 2021 at 15.30 GMT (Updates so far since commenced on 5 May 2020: 539)


The web’s most comprehensive guide of ski resorts opening around the world during the pandemic.


An estimated 3000+ Ski Areas Are Currently Open Worldwide in at least 40 Countries on 3 Continents including: Asia: Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey. Europe: Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. North America: Canada (except Ontario), USA

Ski areas in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mongolia, Morocco, Portugal, Scotland and the Slovak Republic want to open but governments in their countries or region have deemed it is not virus-safe to do so at present.


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Latest resort updates

  • NEW: St Anton and Solden which closed last week due to stricter pandemic operating restrictions in the Tirol region have both said they’re re-opening. St Anton this weekend, Solden on March 5th 27th Feb.)
  • NEW: Switzerland, where ski areas and hotels are open, has announced that shops and museums can reopen from March 1st, while restaurants can open from March 22nd. Ski resorts had been pushing for restaurants to be allowed to open sooner, if only outdoor terraces. (26 February)
  • Israel’s ski centre is reported to have re-opened as the country eases its lockdown now almost half the population vaccinated. (25 Feb).
  • The boss of Switzerland Tourism says the evidence to date is that his country made the correct decision to keep ski areas open this year when others closed theirs down. (24 Feb)
  • England’s government confirms no international travel until at least mid-May essentially ruling out the remainder of the ski season for most Brits. (23 Feb)
  • India’s Gulmarg reports booming domestic business this season after India’s lockdown ended last autumn. (22 Feb)
  • Courchevel ski resort in France has started offering a taxi service to the top of a 2km groomed run as ski lifts remain closed by government order (22 Feb).
  • Ski areas in Lebanon are reported to have been closed due to a new lockdown (22 Feb).
  • A number of Austrian ski areas including Fieberbrunn and St Johann are now offering free COVID testing on site to stay in the rules. (18 Feb)
  • Resorts including Formigal and Garmisch which have not been able to open this season have now said they won’t now open this season even if allowed to in the spring. More Austrian ski areas that were open to locals including St Anton and Solden have now closed after stricter rulers made operations untenable. (16 Feb)
  • Sierra Nevada in Spain has re-opened it’s slopes to all residents of the surrounding Andalucía region providing they live is a district with less than 500 COVID infections per 100,000 people. (16 Feb)
  •  Italy’s government unexpectedly extends the enforced closure of Italian ski areas to 5th March just hours before they were due to re-open. (15th February).
  • Austria’s Tirol region requires skiers to provide a negative coronavirus test before purchasing a lift pass. More resorts decide to close as a result. (15th February)
  • Italy’s Trentino region is to move up to the orange tier from Monday, the day ski areas would have been allowed to open there. So resorts including so resorts including Val di Fassa, San Pellegrino, San Martino di Castrozza and Val di Fiemme will remain closed along with ski areas in South Tyrol, also in the orange tier. (13 Jan)
  • Germany has extended its lockdown to 7th March leading a number of leading ski areas to call it a day on the 20-21 ski season. They say even if allowed to open that late in the season it will be too late for it to be worth the cost and effort to do so for a few final weeks. (12 Jan)
  • There’s still some uncertainty but most Italian ski areas are increasingly confident they’ll be able to reopen next week and different areas have begun announcing precise opening days – they hope. It does not mean a return of ski holidays yet though. France will be the only major ski country with lifts still closed (Feb 11).
  • As rumours persist, ski areas in Austria are insisting skiers do not, at this point in time, require a negative COVID test to be allowed on the slopes. (Feb 11)
  • Ontario, the only province in North America to close slopes due to the COVID pandemic says they can reopen from February 16th (Feb 9th)
  • Rumours of a stronger lock down or pandemic rules in Tirol has led Skiwelt to publish a note that it does NOT require skiers to provide a negative virus test to be allowed on the slopes. (Feb 9th)
  • South Tyrol is currently in an orange tier on Italy’s pandemic measure so it appears it will be not able to reopen its ski centres next week when (it appears) most of the rest of the country will be able to. (8 Feb) 
  • Italy has announced ski areas in the country’s ‘yellow zones’ on 15th February under the country’s new tiered system will be able to re-open slopes and lifts. Most of the country’s ski areas are currently in yellow zones. (5 February).
  • Ski areas in Poland appear to be preparing to re-open to all from 12th February (5 February).
  • Scotland has extended the closure of ski areas to the end of February during what would be one of the best seasons in the past decade (3 Feb 21)
  • Austria is cautiously easing its lockdown restrictions but says a decision on restarting tourism is two weeks away. (3 Feb 21)
  • Among a list of predictions for coming ski seasons, a holiday company has predicted it will be at least two winters before apres-ski might return to normal, “I think après ski could return during the 2021-21 season in some capacity but there will be capacity limitations in place for any bars or restaurants and it will be for seated clients only. I think it will not be until 2023 that we see a return to après ski as we knew it,” said Natasha Robertson, Co-Founder of chalet companies Bramble Ski & Haute Montagne. (3 Feb 21)
  • French Government have closed borders to non-EU nationals and confirmed on 1st February that ski areas would not be allowed to open until at least March. Earlier in the day around 100 ski area workers blocked access to the Frejus Tunnel between France and Italy protesting against resulting hardship (2nd February, 2021)
  • Ski areas in most parts of Slovenia have been allowed to re-open, to skiers only, under a new tiered system (2nd February, 2021).
  • Ministers in the provincial government of Ontario in Canada, the only area in North America to have closed its ski areas, announced they hope they will be able to re-open ‘early-February’.
  • Some ski areas in Poland open to “sportsmen and women” who have evidence they’re part of some sports team. (2nd February 2021).
  • 96 skiers deemed to be in Austria illegally have been caught by police and issued with fines of up to 2,180 Euros in St Anton. Reuters reports the skiers come from countries including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK. (30 January)
  • Poland’s government has extended the closure of ski resorts to February 14th, whilst allowing shopping malls to re-open, causing some anger. (28 January) 
  • Turkey has cracked down on apres ski gatherings after Turkish media showed social media images of unmasked groups of people having apres ski fun in the resort of Uludag whilst the country has strict pandemic restrictions in place. (27 January)
  • The Czech government has announced the country’s state of emergency would continue to at least February 14th. The country’s ski area operators association say they’re safe to open and must open by January 29th to be able to do so viably this winter. (26 Jan)
  • Organisers of springtime music festivals in The Alps are being forced to cancel for the second successive year. (24 January)
  • Morocco has closed Africa’s Oukaimeden ski area after a coronavirus case was identified (14 January)
  • Italian resorts optimistic that they will open for the season at the third attempt on February 15th after multiple government agencies signalled this time they would be good to go. (24 January).
  • The French government says the country’s ski areas will not re-open at the start of February as hoped and that opening in mid or late February is “highly improbable”. (20 January). 
  • German leaders have extended the lockdown there until 14 February at the earliest and surgical or higher protection masks will now be required in shops and public transport. (20 Jan)
  • The Austrian government have announced the hard lockdown there will be extended until at least 8 February 2021. At that point they hope there will be small loosenings of restrictions but hotels and restaurants are expected to remain closed until at least the end of February. Ski areas will remain open to local people. (17 Jan)
  • Italy’s ski areas have announced they won’t open on Monday, January 18th, as had been hoped with the Italian Government now saying they will now not open until at least February 15th because of, “the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.” (16 Jan)
  • Ski resorts in South Korea have re-opened (15 Jan).
  • Some ski areas in Norway have been selling out of limited availability tickets in advance at weekends and holidays with Voss saying the only way to get a lift pass after they sold out for a day was to book resort accommodation which comes with a lift ticket included (14 Jan).
  • Several ski areas in Poland have said they will operate in defiance of a government order that they close (14 Jan).
  • Ski areas in Iceland have been allowed to open to adult skiers for the season (14 Jan).
  • There are (very) early signs that some of the ski areas in the Alps currently closed by their governments may try to stay open later in to spring if snow and pandemic conditions are good enough then. (11 January).
  • The famous Lauberhorn World Cup downhill ski race in Wengen, Switzerland, has been cancelled due to the pandemic. (11 January)
  • There’s been relief in Quebec that, so far at least, ski areas have been permitted to remain open despite ever more draconian measures to limit the spreads of the virus there. Ski areas in neighbouring Ontario remain closed by provincial government order. (9 Jan)
  • French resorts probably won’t open until at least mid-February, government announces. (8 Jan)
  • Germany has delayed its opening date for ski resorts. The Zugspitze Glacier says they now hope it will be by February. The centre, the country’s highest, says they may extend the ski season if snow conditions allow in spring. (7 Jan)
  • Andorra’s ski centres have opened for the season, although initially only to people living locally. The Grandvalira and Vallnord resorts ran their lifts free of charge over opening weekend – 2nd/3rd January. (4 Jan)
  • Scotland’s remaining still-open ski areas have been ordered to close from Tuesday January 5th as the country goes into a full lockdown. Three of the country’s centres had been open under tight restrictions.(4 Jan).
  • Italian ski areas may be able to open from 18th January according to the country’s government. The country will be divided in to tiers according to virus infection rates.
  • French ski resorts won’t be allowed to open from 7th January, as the French government had hoped in December. Exactly when they will be able to open remains unclear but it looks like the latter half of January at the earliest.
  • The Slovak Republic has announced ski resorts must close between 1st and 24th January 2021 after being open at Christmas and over New Year’s Eve.
  • Several leading ski areas in Austria, including Ischgl and Saalbach, have not yet opened for the season as they say they have issues include problems breaking even, or of preventing border crossings, with the current restrictions.
  • Ontario is the first and so far only region in North America to announce its ski areas must close, from December 26th, due to a new lockdown. (24 December)

(Headlines from earlier in the pandemic are archived below)

*** Scroll down to the country section below for more details and latest updates ***


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Please note ALL re-opened ski areas are exercising strict measures to reduce the risk of spread of the virus, see:  ‘Operating In A Pandemic – What Has Changed?’ below.


List of resorts reopening in 2020
Arosa the day after the lockdown.


Ski resort updates

(Please note updates are posted for each country when we hear of new developments. These are changing around the world at different times and sometimes without much publicity now so please contact us if you see something that needs updating. We run checks on all countries regularly but only update a section when we hear of something to update, with the most recent date for each country listed in its entry)

Northern Hemisphere

Andorra

*** Updated 2nd February, 2021

Andorra Social Distancing Requirements: 1.5 Metres (60 Inches).

Andorra Ski Areas open: 3

Andorra kept its ski areas closed over Christmas and new year but allowed centres to open its ski areas for local skiers thon 2nd January. The opening weekend lifts ran free of charge in celebration.

The country says it expects few international guests this winter as it knows it will be difficult to visit.

The planned opening date had initially been set back to 19th December but on 3rd December it was announced ski areas wouldn’t open until January.

On 14th December was then announced that Andorra’s ski areas were expected to open on January 3rd, 2021 but this wasn’t confirmed until a day before.

As of the start of February the country remains largely closed to international tourism. Those who can visit must provide a negative test result on arrival. Therefore few people can actually get to the open slopes and as a result only limited terrain is open, in order to stem operating losses, even though centres could probably be fully open if they had more business to justify it.

Austria

Austria resorts reopening 2020
Hintertux 29 April 2020

*** Updated 15th February, 2021 ***

Austria Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metre (80 inches)

Austria Lifts Policy: No limit on the number of people using lifts (eg 6 strangers can share a 6 seat gondola cabin), but everyone must wear masks.

Austria Centres Currently Open: 300

The current situation in Austria:

Austrian ski areas were planning for fairly normal operation for winter 2020-21 with centres saying they’ll open as normal and no limits beyond normal limits on the numbers who can use individual lifts or access the mountain.

However on 31st October the Austrian president announced a November lockdown which means the nine (mostly glacier) areas that had opened already had to close again. This was later (on December 2nd) extended through December with ski areas able to open from December 24th. However initially this was for locals only and with a full medical standard face mask required.

Most Austrian ski areas don’t usually open until December anyway so there were not great concerns in November although aa few like Obergurgl, Obertauern and Ischgl which open in November had to delay doing so.

Hotels and restaurants were initially closed until 7th January, 2021 but this date was later extended to January 18th then January 24th. Re-opening for winter tourism is now tied to a return to lower levels of infection rates.

Hundreds of Austrian ski areas did open to locals from 24th December, with new, more stringent pandemic operating restrictions including the requirement to wear surgical standard face masks (not just Buffs) and limit numbers on lifts. A few big names including Ischgl and Saalbach delayed opening as they said they had logistical issues or costs were too high compared to likely income. Many other areas have struggled to stay open with some closing again reporting few skiers able to visit and mounting losses as as result.

On 17th January the Austrian government have announced the hard lockdown there would be extended a further three weeks until at least 8 February 2021. At that point they hope there will be small loosenings of restrictions but hotels and restaurants are expected to remain closed until at least the end of February. Ski areas will remain open to local people.

On 2nd February the Austrian government announced restrictions would be gradually eased if virus rates continue to decline, however delayed a decision on restarting tourism for a further two weeks.

Tirol saw a jump in cases in early February leading to concerns about another lockdown, but that was averted. Resorts initially had to deny reports that a negative COVID test was now required to get on the slopes, which wasn’t true ….until 15th February when that rule was brought in. It led a number of resorts including Solden to decide to close until restrictions ease.

What Happening in Austria in the Autumn Before Its Second Lockdown

Normally about half- the ski areas open in Europe until the winter starts are in Austria with glaciers opening in September and October and that was the case this year too.

In mid-November the Austrian Chancellor extended the country’s lockdown to December 6th and there are now concerns that a pan-EU move to delay all ski areas opening until January may come in to force.

Earlier in the autumn warm weather slowed the rate of autumn glacier openings but the Pitztal glacier opened on 19 September, joining year-round Hintertux, with the Kaunertal and Solden glaciers opening a week later and more joining them from early October with heavy snowfall up high helping a lot and giving great conditions for early autumn.

Hochkar opened briefly in October due to the snow (first without a glacier) then Kitzbuhel used snow farming to open from 24th October.

What happened in Austria during the first 6 months of the pandemic?

Austria was one of the first major ski nations to ease their lockdown.  They announced in April that ski touring could resume on May 1st although then asked people not to go ski touring due to their potential medical need at a time of pandemic, and high avalanche risk.

They then said ski lifts could re-open from May 29th and initially three of the country’s glacier ski areas: Hintertux, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn re-opened on that date.

The Molltal glacier also began its (usually) 11 month ski season on 6th June. This is a few weeks earlier than the Molltal’s usual ski season opening date which is in the later half of June most years – one of the world’s longest. We say “usually” because on August 16th this year the Molltal glacier ended its summer ski season.

The Kitzsteinhorn announced on 27th May that their area would include a small terrain park.

The Dachstein glacier has also been open again since May 29th – but will not offer snowsports until the autumn.

The Kaunertal had a short re-opening though, running for only 9 days to the scheduled end of its 19-20 season, June 7th.

The Stubai glacier says it won’t re-open for snowsports now until the Autumn, when the Pitztal and Solden glaciers areas usually open too.

Bulgaria

Borovets

*** Updated 24 February 2021 ***

Bulgaria social distancing requirement: 1.5 metres.

Bulgarian ski areas currently open: 10

In early November The Bulgarian government announced plans to promote skiing as “good for your health” this winter.

Ski areas there reported weather was cold enough for snowmaking in late November and that they hoped to open in December. However the country’s health ministry was also reported to be looking in to resorts opening.

The tourism minister said on 26th November the country rejected calls from France, Germany and Italy to close all EU ski slopes until January 10th and expected ski areas to open shortly before Christmas.

On 14th December Bansko announced they would open for the season on Thursday, 17th December and most of the rest of the country’s other ski areas opened by the end of the year and have so far stayed open.

Bulgarian ski areas remained open through January and ski holidays here are still possible from some countries but the country did introduce a requirement that new arrivals had a negative virus test within 72 hours of arriving in the country from late January.

On 24th February Bulgaria’s PM announced restaurants could reopen from 1st March, nightclubs from 1st April.

No visitors from the UK will be allowed until after the end of the ski season as the country tries to avoid exposure to the English variant of the virus. However no leisure travel from England to Bulgaria is allowed until at least late May anyway.

Canada

Canada resorts reopening 2020

***Updated 2nd February 2021 ***

Canada Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (80 inches)

Canada Ski Centres Currently Open: 200+

Western Canada’s ski centres saw cold temperatures and heavy snowfall in October leading Mt Norquay at Banff to announce its earliest ever opening and be the first in the country and second in North America to open for 20-21 on Saturday 24 October. Lake Louise was the second Canadian area to open, a week earlier than planned and also its earliest ever opening date, on 29th October.

Nakiska had planned to open on the 30th October but switched to 6th November and eventually opened on the 7th. Sunshine opened on the 9th and Panorama has opened to ski racers for trainers but not yet the general public.

Next to open around the weekend of 13-15 November were Marmot Basin in Alberta, the fifth in the province, and Cypress Mountain in BC, the first in the country’s far west. More areas including Big White and Sun Peaks opened soon after.

In the East of the country Mont Sainte Sauveur was the first area to open, on 30th October, following cold weather for snowmaking there. It began night skiing on the 6th November. A warm spell followed which delayed other eastern areas opening, but it’s now cooler again.

Canadian ski centres are operating with pandemic restrictions in place, stricter than in Europe including fewer people on the mountain, on lifts, social-distancing and the rest.

Pandemic restrictions were intensified in December with (among other measures across the country) non-essential travel bans in provinces including BC leading to prosecutions of skiers travelling to resorts from cities. On 15th December a cluster of 60 confirmed coronavirus cases was uncovered at Big White ski area. This later grew to well over 100, although cases were reported to be in isolation and the ski areas remained open, and a smaller cluster was uncovered at Nakiska.

At the end of December Ontario became the first region in North America to announce ski areas must close during their latest lockdown in January. Rising rates and tough restrictions have lead to fears that Quebec would also close its ski areas but to date that has not happened.

In early February Ontario’s government said they hoped to open resorts imminently.

What Happened in Canada During the First 6 Months of the Pandemic

Most of Canada’s ski areas would normally have closed by the time the country eased lockdown in June. Just one, Whistler Blackcomb, normally offers glacier skiing through to early July in a normal year. This year however, it has decided not to open that facility, although it could have, and did re-open for hiking, biking and so on.

Sunshine, which usually stays open to late-May, confirmed that they would not be re-opening until next season.

Mont St Sauveur in Quebec has opened a summer terrain park in recent years using snow left from the previous winter and they confirmed on May 20th that they have snow left this year and will open the snowpark if Quebec’s lockdown is eased in time. However so far that did not seem to happen.

China

China resorts reopening 2020

*** Updated 4th February, 2021 ***

China Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches)

China Ski Centres Currently Open: 500+

With the Winter Olympics only a year away, China is getting ever more excited about winter sports and keen to out the virus behind them.

Several of the country’s leading ski areas including Wanlong and Thaiwoo opened first runs using snowmaking in late October. Another area was reported to have opened in late September.

Most ski areas are reported to have opened across the country’s ski regions by the end of 2020, all with pandemic-spread prevention measures in place.

January 2021 has thankfully been very different to the mass lockdown and resort closures of January 2020 therefore with no reports of any ski areas being required to close.

Unfortunately though test events ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics due to be staged in February 2021 have been cancelled as they were in 2020 so it appears the Olympics will arrive without international test events having been staged – a first for a Winter Olympics in the modern era.

What Happened in China During Winter – Spring 2020

China was where it all began of course and the country’s ski areas were closed and the country largely in lockdown from mid-January to mid-March.  It also became the first country where ski areas re-opened in the latter half of March, but with numerous pandemic-re-emergence-prevention measures in place.  

Czech Republic

*** Updated 15th February, 2021 ***

Czech Republic Social Distancing Requirements: 2m (6.6 Feet).
Face masks are no longer required outdoors as they were initially, but are still mandatory on indoor transport and in indoor public spaces where 2-metre distancing cannot be maintained. 

Czech Republic Ski Centres Currently Open: 0

The situation regarding resorts opening was unclear in the Czech Republic until December 14th. The country’s leading resort of Spindleruv Mlyn said at the start of December that they would open on December 18th but then on December 9th, the Czech Government said they could not yet make a decision on when the country’s resorts could open, saying it was “too soon”  Resorts said that position was “frustrating”.

However on December 14th Spindleruv Mlyn confirmed they would be opening on the 18th as hoped.

This was short-lived though, and ski slopes were closed by government order until January 10th, although it appeared ski lifts could still operate for sightseers, just not skiers.

It was reported on 8th January that it was unlikely ski areas would open on the 10th due to pandemic infection rates.

Ski areas did not re-open and on 26th January the government announced the country’s state of emergency would continue to at least February 14th. The country’s ski area operators association say they’re safe to open and must open by January 29th to be able to do so viably this winter.

On 29th January the government further tightened restrictions, continuing ski area closures, and did not give a proposed end date to the current position.

Ski areas said they hoped to open again around 13th February but that was rejected by the government.

How Did Czech Ski Areas Behave During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic?

The Czech Republic was one of the first country’s in the world to ease its pandemic to an extent that some ski areas could re-open only about a month or so after lockdown began, by the latter part of April. Most Czech areas had already ended their ski seasons by then anyway but one, Praded, re-opened slopes for a short time.

Finland

*** Updated on February 4th, 2020 ***

Finland Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metre (80 inches).

Finland Centres Currently Open: 80

The 2020-21 ski season started in Finland at 9.30am on Friday 2nd October, 2020 when two of its largest resorts – Levi and Ruka – re-opened after six months closure.

They used snow-farming, saving snow from the previous winter through the summer then spreading it back out on the slopes to create a few runs as it gets colder again in the Autumn to open and were among the first ski areas without glaciers to open in Europe for the new season in this way.

A warm spell in November followed but it turned colder later in the month and Levi hosted World Cup racing as usual on 21st/22nd November.

Finland has also so far managed to suppress the second wave of the pandemic there more successfully than many other countries in Europe. Most of the country’s ski areas opened in the first half of December and as of February were remaining open with pandemic-spread prevention measures in place.

What Happened in Finland In The Spring 2020 Pandemic?

Finland was one of the last countries in Europe to decide to close ski areas as the pandemic took hold in March, closing the last in early April.

Several centres here use snow farming, preserving last season’s snow under cover through the warmer months then spreading it back out on the slopes in early autumn when things cool down, to open early. Levi and Ruka aim to open in early October.

Levi, due to open on October 2nd, is pictured above in mid-August.

France

*** Updated on February 2nd, 2021 ***

France Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches). Wearing a mask is compulsory in lift queues and throughout the ski lift journey for people over 11 years old. 

France Ski Centres Currently Open: 0

The French 20-21 ski season started on 17th October with Les 2 Alpes and Tignes opening for glacier skiing.

However on 28th October President Macron announced a new lockdown from 30th October to 1st December to try to quall rising virus numbers so ski areas have unfortunately closed again (Les 2 Alpes had been due to close again through November anyway after its 2-week October opening).

On 24th November as the lockdown was nearing its end President Macron announced that the country’s ski areas would probably not be allowed to re-open for Christmas and New Year but he hoped would be able to open in January and said a final decision on that would be made by 4th December.

On 26th November the French Prime minister appeared to confirm that ski areas should be closed until January. The country is working with Germany and Italy to try to create an all-EU ban on ski areas opening until January 10th. On December 11th the Reuters news agency said French Government sources said they were looking at January 7th as the season start day.

Most French resorts have now said they plan to open for visitors at Christmas even if they could not run the ski lifts. There is growing anger in the French Alps with protests and petitions for people unable to work due to the restrictions.

On 9th December it was announced that the group which represents French ski resorts, Domaines Skiables de France, is suing the French government over its plans to shut down ski areas over Christmas and New Year

Some reports indicated French resorts will open on January 11th, others January 20th, but it was officially announced on December 11th that January 7th 2021 was the agreed date with the French government.

However on January 7th the French government announced ski areas would not be able to open until at least mid-February due to virus rates.

An update on January 20th confirmed that opening in mid or now even late February was “highly improbable”

Concerns have been raised about people hiking up to ski runs at closed resorts when they may not have been made avalanche safe during the closed period.

Les 2 Alpes in France have groomed two blue pistes, the longest with 750 metres of vertical, for ski tourers to use. Other resorts have done similar and many have opened children’s nursery slopes, but business is dramatically down.

The French Government have now closed borders to non-EU nationals and confirmed on 1st February that ski areas would not be allowed to open until at least March.

Earlier in the day around 100 ski area workers blocked access to the Frejus Tunnel between France and Italy protesting against resulting hardship.

French Glacier Ski Centre operations in Summer 2020

All three remaining French glacier ski areas re-opened in June for their summer ski seasons. Resorts are expected to begin autumn operations on the glacier at Tignes from 10th October.

Lifts are also running again at some resorts resorts like Chamonix, with temperature checks for users, to access high altitude ski touring terrain,

Staff in the three French glacier ski areas that open for summer skiing,
Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere, were able to go back in to work since May 11th to prepare for the easing of the French lockdown.

Initially resorts focused on French visitors but borders re-opened across the EU through June and then with some other countries.

Val d’Isere was open to July 11, Tignes to August 2nd and Les 2 Alpes to 30 August.

On June 2nd Val d’Isere released detailed of its summer operating plans with a range of pandemic-spread-prevention measures in place including a requirement to buy lift passes at least 48 hours in advance, online.

Originally the centre had thought it too would initially only open for race team training initially then for the general public later in the month but it is now open for both with a maximum of 500 tickets a day in the first week to recreational skiers and boarders then 600 from week two.

A month in to operations a spokesperson for the centre said, ” It has all gone really well, helped by fabulous snow conditions. Social distancing for the lift, wearing masks on the lift, and booking online with numbers limited  is working very smoothly.”

France had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe with the nation coming together to stop the spread of the virus.  Many initiatives were reported including ski instructors turning their talents to stitching old ski jackets into face masks; Michelin starred ski area chefs working to supply food to frontline medical staff, and French ski gear manufacturers switching to PPE manufacture.

Germany

Zugspitze Glacier November 17th, 2020

*** Updated February 12th, 2021 ***

Germany Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)

Number of German Ski areas open: 0

Germany was due to start its 2020-21 season in mid-November at the Zugspitze glacier, which reported great autumn conditions after lots of October snowfall. However the country’s second lockdown, later extended to December 20th stopped that.

Bavaria, and later the German Chancellor, led efforts coordinated with France and Italy to close ski slopes across the EU in to January and it now looks like German slopes were closed to at least January 10th, 2021.

German ski areas say the order is unfair as they are not the sort of resorts with lively apres ski and have pandemic spread prevention measures in place.

On January 7th it was announced Germany has further delayed its opening date for ski resorts. The Zugspitze Glacier says they now hope it will be by February. The centre, the country’s highest, says they may extend the ski season if snow conditions allow in spring.

On January 20th German leaders extended the lockdown there until 14 February at the earliest and surgical or higher protection masks will now be required in shops and public transport.

The lockdown was extended again on 12th February to 7th March.

Some commentators said it now seems unlikely many German ski areas will open this season at all, due to the logistical and cost issues against low probably returns, even if eventually allowed to do so late in the winter. A number, including the Garmisch-Classic, have confirmed that’s now the case.

Italy

***Updated 16th February 2021 ***

Italy Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches).

Italy Ski Centres Currently Open: 0

Italy’s ski season was gathering pace in October with four areas open and great conditions thanks to early autumn snowfall by the end of the month.

However a new partial-national lockdown led to some of the resorts being closed again from Monday 26th October with the hope that measures taken across the country would bring virus infection rates down and the country would be able to open for the winter ski season after 24th November.

Initially two of the four areas stayed open (Sulden and Val Senales) to all however, apparently as Italian regions take a different approach to the national advice. Val Senales confirmed on 28 October it plans to stay open, but then on 4th November announced from 8th November it would only be open to race teams Sulden said the same.

A third, Cervinia, closed for three days but then re-opened to race teams only from 29th October. The fourth, Passo Stelvio, had been due to close anyway from November 1st, due to its June-October season ending anyway.

Towards the end of November Italy’s Prime minister advised Italians not to go on their traditional Christmas ski holiday and joined with France and Germany in seeking a ban on ski areas opening across the eu until January 10th, 2021.

This decision led to strong objections from ski resorts and region. The hoped-for opening dates keep changing but currently Italian resorts hope to open from January 7th, 2021.

This date was then extended to January 18th in early January but as of January 12th uncertainty continued as to whether Italian ski areas will be able to re-open then. The country’s regions are currently being divided in to colour coded levels according to pandemic levels with Veneto and Lombardy in orange (the middle rating) for now, and South Tyrol in the highest, red. Currently it is being suggested maximum capacity at re-opened ski areas would be 30-40% of the norm.  Ski areas are questioning whether people living in the lowest infection areas (yellow) will be allowed to travel to them and whether they will be able to cover their operating costs. Some are saying it would be better to delay and ‘open well’ for the last few months of the season than ‘open badly’ on the 18th.

On January 15th the Italian Government announced ski areas would now not be able to open at least February 15th due to the pandemic.

On January 22nd Italian ski areas began to say they were increasingly confident that the 15th February date would actually happen this time as a government agency had finally approved their pandemic operating procedures – which it had not done ahead of the earlier date. Other government groups had also given the go ahead for the February 15th opening.

On 4th February Italy announced ski areas in the country’s ‘yellow zones’ on 15th February under the country’s new tiered system will be able to re-open slopes and lifts. Most of the country’s ski areas are currently in yellow zones.

However South Tyrol is currently in an orange tier on Italy’s pandemic measure so it appears it will be not able to reopen its ski centres next week when (it appears) most of the rest of the country will be able to. 

On Thursday 11th February the country’s ski areas began announcing planned season opening dates from the start of the following week.

However it was announced on the 12th that the Trentino region is also to move up to the orange tier from Monday, the day ski areas would have been allowed to open there. So resorts including so resorts including Val di Fassa, San Pellegrino, San Martino di Castrozza and Val di Fiemme will remain closed along with ski areas in South Tyrol, also in the orange tier. 

Late on Sunday 14th February, just before ski areas were due to reopen on the 15th, the Italian government announced a further extension to the closure of ski areas to at least March 5th.

Side note: Late on December 16th the Saslong lift company in Italy, which runs some of the lifts in Val Gardena including the famous World Cup race course about to be hosting it’s annual races, announced it won’t open this season (although the races were still held).

Italian Ski resort Operating In First 6 Months of Pandemic

Italy, one of the worst affected countries in Europe from the virus, had a strict lockdown for nearly two months, which was then progressively eased since May 4th allowing for an ever increasing amount of outdoor activity.

The Stelvio Summer Ski Centre in Italy, the country’s only remaining summer-only destination, reopened for Italian national team athletes at the start of June and then re-opened to all skiers and boarders from 13th June – it’s due to stay open to the end of October, all being well.

A second glacier area, Val Senales, opened on September 18th for its 2020-21 season.T

Besides the Italian squads, racing superstars Petra Vlhova from Slovakia and upcoming star Alice Robinson from New Zealand, were training at Stelvio back in June. There were however reports of several virus cases in the Italian team based there in late June.

Access to a second summer ski area, accessed from Cervinia but located on the Swiss side of the border above Zermatt, re-opened with summer skiing from 20th June, earlier than previously hoped.

In an interesting twist from the pandemic prevention measures, there are different social distancing requirements on each side of the border – 1 metre (40 inches) in Italy but 1,5 meets (5 feet) in Switzerland. However the resort reports all is fine with skiers sticking to the rules on each side.

A third Italian area that formerly operated through summer, Val Senales said on 5th May they were concerned there was “fake news” that they might re-open this spring/summer and said they definitely will not be and are prepping the area for their usual September season start.

Cortina d’Ampezzo said on May 7th they’ll offer free weekend ski breaks to health workers involved in the country’s battle with the pandemic.

Japan

Japan resorts reopening 2020

***Updated 4th February 2021 ***

Japan Social Distancing Requirements: 2 Metres (6.6 feet).

Japan Ski Centres Currently Operating: 300+

What’s The Current Situation in Japan?

The first ski resort opened a run for 20-21, using entirely machine-made snow, in late October 2020.

The ski season then kind of got underway in Japan with at least two areas opening runs made from entirely all-weather snow machine snow – so it was a case of a ribbon of snow over grass and leaves down the slope. SnowJapan.com reported that Snow Park Yeti – known as Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti last year and other names before that – was the first in the country to open on Friday 30th October.

Larger ski resorts began opening when natural snow arrived in late November and early December with Appi, Hunter Mountain and Rusutsu among the first to start their seasons.

In response to Covid-19, Hokkaido Prefecture launched the ‘New Hokkaido Style’ campaign, encouraging new lifestyle habits and business customs as part of a ‘new normal’.

In resorts, protective screens at desks, sanitation of high-touch areas, provision of hand sanitiser, floor stickers for social distancing, daily health checks for employees and temperature and travel history checks for guests are just a handful of the industry-wide approaches that have already been incorporated.

Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido is operating reduced capacity on its airport transfer buses in order to better assure social distancing and gondolas are being disinfected between each ride.

Kiroro resort has introduced digital menus in its restaurants, as well as implementing a strict guided seating process led by restaurant staff members.

Temperatures warmed and virus cases increased in mid-November throwing doubts on the start of the country’s main season at the end of November and start of December but resorts did start opening pretty much on schedule.

Since then most Japanese ski areas have stayed open despite virus cases rising in the wider community and international travel being blocked. There have also been repeated huge snowfalls for many to start the winter.

What happened in Japan during the first 6 months of the pandemic?

Japanese ski areas kept operating through the initial stages of the pandemic in February and until late-April, in the cases of resorts that usually stay open to the start of May.  However, a second, worse, wave on the pandemic in mid-April caused all to close by April 24th.

On 6th May SnowJapan.com reported that one Japanese area, Yokoteyama/Shibutoge in Shiga Kogen, was re-opening for a short period from Thursday 7th May.

The country has lifted its state of emergency again in late May and the lone summer ski area Gassan opened again, ending its season at the end of July.

Initially that was for local skiers in Yamagata Prefecture only, and at one point skiers had to present ID to show they had not travelled from outside the area when buying tickets, but is now open to all once more.

Norway

*** Updated 4th February ***

Norway Social Distancing Requirements: 1 Metre (40 Inches).

Norway Ski Centres Currently Open: 100+

Norway perhaps had the shortest closed period of any of the world’s ski areas in spring 2020 and has had ski areas open almost constantly since late April.

In November 2020 the general view was that the country was handling the second wave of the pandemic fairly well and that most ski areas should be able to re-open subject to the approval of their local health authorities.

Geilo was one of the first larger ski areas in the country to re-open, on 5th December, with most others joining it within the next week.

Most of the rest of the ski areas in the country had opened by Christmas. Norway has strict border controls with long self-quarantine requirements for anyone entering the country and as of January had lower virus rates than most European countries.

Ski areas sold out of limited availability tickets in advance at weekends and holidays with Voss saying the only way to get a lift pass after they sold out for a day was to book resort accommodation which comes with a lift ticket included.

As of February most of Norway’s ski centres are fully open.

What Happened in Norway During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic?

Norway was one of the first countries in Europe to ease its lockdown, in late April, allowing smaller ski areas to re-open, if agreed by local government and health bodies and social distancing and other measures in place. About a dozen areas re-opened and some got another 4-6 weeks of the season in before closing in late-May as the snow melted.

However three glaciers ski areas stayed open until early August and two are still open.

The third glacier to open, Stryn, opening for is season on 12th June but was the first to close in August.

Fonna glacier area had had so much snow this winter and spring the main issue for them has been clearing snow, more than the pandemic, but they eventually opened after more than a month of digging out the access road with snow lying up to 15 metres/50 feet deep and also operating with social distancing and all other anti-virus-spread measures in place.

Poland

*** Updated 15 February, 2021***

Social Distancing Requirements in Poland: 1.5 Metres.

Polish ski centres currently operational: 50

Poland said in early December that its ski slopes will reopen this season – but only for local residents and during the school holidays, with resort hotels and restaurants remaining closed.

Białka Tatrzańska was one of the first of the country’s ski centres to open, on December 5th.

The government subsequently closed resorts but in early January several leading centres said they would open anyway in defiance of the government order.

On 28th January Poland’s government extended the closure of ski resorts to February 14th, whilst allowing shopping malls to re-open, causing some anger.

At the start of February Polish ski areas said they were preparing to open from February 12th and were already open for sports clubs. Re-opening went ahead from the 12th with large crowds reported in the leading resort of Zakopane.

What Happened in Poland at the Start of the Pandemic

Poland relaxed its lockdown and allowed mountain areas to re-open lifts at the start of May, one of the first countries in Europe to do so. However the season is ended there now anyway.

Scotland

The silhouetted quad chairlift at Nevis Range, with mist filling the glen below.

*** Updated 25 February, 2021 ***

Social Distancing Requirements in Scotland: 2 Metres, Mask worn in lift queues and indoors.

Scottish ski centres currently operational: 0

Most of Scotland’s ski areas opened for the season on December 19th, although limited terrain was available with snow made by all weathers snowmaking machines and inadequate natural snow cover to create runs. However Nevis Range ski area says it is shutting down operations until the trading situation is better, having made substantial losses during the pandemic. It hopes to re-open in the New Year if snow conditions and trading possibilities improve sufficiently.

On opening day most Scottish ski areas were in the low tier 1 for the pandemic, except Glenshee in tier 3 and The Lecht on the border of tiers 1 and 3. This meant only limited areas were legally able to visit.

Then on December 19th the Scottish First Minister announced all would be moving in to the country’s highest tier 4, despite low case numbers in their locations, in part of a national drive to suppress the virus from December 26th. At that point the ski areas reacted in different ways. Glencoe, Glenshee and The Lecht stayed open to local skiers only; Cairngorm closed.

Things changed once more at the start of January when Scotland went in to a stricter lockdown and the three open areas were told to close completely. So only ski tourers are currently getting out on the snow.

On 2 February the Scottish Government announced restrictions would continue through February. It announced £3m in support for ski areas. A number of ski tourers have been fined after found breaking travel restrictions to go to the mountains.

On 23 February the Scottish Government announced plans to re-open the economy which appears to allow ski centres there to potentially re-open, possibly to locally-based skiers only initially, at the end of April, should they have snow remaining and be in a position to do so.

What Happened in Scotland at the start of the Global Pandemic

Some long-time observers of Scotland’s challenging winters for ski area operators pointed to the irony that conditions from late-March and though April would have been the best in recent years for several of the country’s ski areas.  On the West Coast, in particular, the snow was lying deep, the weather has been much less windy than usual and the weather service reported April was the sunniest in the country since records began.  Re-opening ski slopes didn’t happen though as Britain eased its lockdown, and Glencoe had a virtual version of its famous midsummer snowsports day in late June.

Slovak Republic

***Updated 31 January ***

Social Distancing Requirement in the Slovak Republic: 2 Metres (6.7 feet)

Ski Centres Currently open in the Slovak Republic: 0

Slovakia’s leading ski area of Jasna opened for the season on 5th December, although with tickets limited to season pass holders initially. 8 lifts were running serving 7 slopes and a total of 9km of runs.

Slovakia’s ski resorts usually start opening in December. November conditions have not been ideal for a pre-season base build up with little natural snowfall and temperatures often too warm for snowmaking.

Ski areas in Slovenia operated up to January 12th, 2021 when the government announced ski areas would be closed for three weeks to try to slow pandemic spread.

Ski areas are currently closed to at least February 7th.

What happened in the Slovak Republic in the first 6 Months of the Pandemic?

The Slovak Republic became the first country to re-open a major mountain resort complete with large chairlifts, gondolas, funitel and cable-car lifts on May 1st. Jasna has full social distancing measures in place, as detailed in ‘Operating In A Pandemic – What Has Changed?’ below.

Slovenia

(Kanin, late May 2020)

***Updated 2nd February, 2021 ***

Slovenia Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)

Ski Resorts open in Slovenia: 10

Slovenian ski areas tend to start opening in December. It has been rather warm and dry in November but Kranjska Gora said towards the end of the month it hoped to open soon.

Snow conditions did improve in early December and resorts were allowed to open, although only to local people with travel between municipalities banned. Kranjska Gora opened first on Thursday 10th December followed by Pohorje above Maribor and at Krvavec on Saturday 12th, again only for locals, with apres ski banned (13 Dec).

Shortly before Christmas the government shut down ski areas until 1st January and fined one stayed open, Krvavec, 4,400 euros.

This closure has now been extended. Kope was the last are open in the country, to January 8th, but reported it had to shut down then due to government restrictions.

Ski resorts were allowed to re-open for skiers only in most areas of the country under a new-tiered system from 23rd January.

What Happened in Slovenia in the first 6 Months of the Pandemic

Kanin ski area announced it was re-opening due to good conditions up high from 14th May. The Slovenian national squad were training there and organised the first national competitions anywhere since lockdown began. The centre closed again on 31st May.

Spain

*** Updated 16th February, 2021 ***

Spain Social Distancing Requirements: 1.5 Metres (60 Inches).

Ski centres currently Open in Spain: 10

Ski areas in Spain appear were allowed to open by the government there in December, against the wishes of their EU neighbour nations to the east, however many Spanish ski areas won’t open for now for various logistical reasons, many virus related.

One of the country’s largest, Baqueira Beret, said they planned to open for the season on Thursday 10th December. Another, Masella, on the 9th. Both have had to delay but said on December 11th they’ll open from the 14th.

Most remain only open to skiers living in the local region and some areas haven’t opened at all.

Valle Laciana-Leitariegos ski area was the first in the country to open, to locals only, on 10th December, the first in the country to do so.

With ski areas closed in Andorra and France over Christmas and New Year Spanish resorts were the only ones open in the Pyrenees. The French Prime Minister announced border patrols to try to intercept French skiers heading to Spain or Switzerland.

Leading ski area Sierra Nevada which was due to open on 27th November said it wouldn’t open until virus conditions improved, and did so in mid-December. On 16 Jan it was announced Sierra Nevada had been allowed to stay open, to local skiers only, after Adalucia brought in tougher new pandemic restrictions. It had previously been feared the resort would have to close. There are now fears the reduced revenue will not cover operating costs.

The Spanish government has said they hope “tourism will resume by the spring” and say it is a priority.

As the season continues, with travel still severely limited in Spain few people can actually get to the open slopes and as a result only limited terrain is open, in order to stem operating losses, even though centres could probably be fully open if they had more business to justify it.

Formigal hoped to open December 23rd but said on the 19th that it would not be open for Christmas after all. It remained closed into February.

On 15th February Sierra Nevada which had closed to all but locals re-opened it’s slopes to all residents of the surrounding Andalucía region providing they live is a district with less than 500 COVID infections per 100,000 people.

Sweden

Sweden resorts reopening 2020
Risgransen Pre-season March 2020

***Updated 4th February, 2020 ***

Sweden Social Distancing Requirements: 1 Metre (40 Inches).

Sweden Ski Centres Currently Open: 100+

Sweden’s 2020-21 ski season began on 16th October 2020 at Idre Fjall ski centre which used snow-farming – saving snow from the previous season stockpiled under cover through summer then spreading it back out on the slopes in October – to open a downhill run and cross country ski trails.

Unseasonably warm weather in November delayed some resorts opening and there were also growing concerns that increasing virus case numbers could make opening ski areas a bad idea in terms of potential virus spread.

However Swedish ski areas did start opening in December, with the largest in Scandinavia, Are, opening on December 18th.

Most of the country’s ski areas are currently operational with strict pandemic operating restrictions in place.

Sweden’s Response To The Pandemic in Spring 2020

Sweden took a different tack to most nations in locking down at a more gradual pace and still less severe than most other countries, whilst asking its citizens to behave sensibly. 

Most of the country’s ski areas were closed in April however as restrictions were increased, among the last in the world to do so. Not all did though, with several agreeing with their local authorities that they could continue to operate.

The last of these to stay open and become the only resort in the world to operated its normal season through the pandemic to date was Riksgransen in the far north which remained open through to May 24th.

However skiing and boarding under the midnight sun which usually take place in May each year was cancelled in 2020 due to a lack of guests, and the annual season-ending Big Mountain Championships are a video competition this year instead.

But the resort did reopen for four days from June 18-21 for is annual midsummer opening festivities and offered midnight sun skiing/boarding then.

Switzerland

Switzerland resorts reopening 2020
Fresh snow on 29 April, 2020

*** Updated 26th February 2021 ***

Switzerland Social-Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)

Switzerland Ski Centres Currently Open: 200+ 

Most Swiss ski centres are opening for the 20-21 season as normal, some earlier than normal. Zermatt has been open since June, Saas Fee since July.

Heavy snowfall at the beginning and end of September led a third area, Glacier 3000 near Gstaad and les Diablerets to open nearly six weeks earlier than planned at the start of October. It was followed by the Titlis Glacier above Engelberg on the 10th.

The Diavolezza Glacier near St Moritz opened on the 19th then Davos on the 24th. Next came Andermatt, Arosa, Laax and Verbier on 30th/31st October – some only opening initially at weekends.

There was a fear that the country would go in to a November lockdown like its neighbours but on 4th November the government decided to keep most businesses open although there were increase restrictions on restaurants and other businesses put in place. An 11th Swiss area, Crans Montana, announced it was opening on the 7th.

Swiss centres have comprehensive anti-pandemic-spread measures in place and have created a ‘Safe & Secure’ holiday label.

Initially lifts could operate at capacity if busy but everyone must wear masks however from the end of October opening resorts began announcing measures similar to those adopted in North America and in much of the southern hemisphere during the 2020 season there. In some case limited numbers on lifts, in waiting areas and on the whole mountain. Also insisting tickets are bought online, sometimes with timed slots. Laax initially opened to season pass holders only.

In late November the leaders of France, Germany and Italy put forward a plan to close all EU ski areas until January 10th but on November 26th Switzerland’s health minister said ski areas there would stay open through the Christmas and New Year holidays.

However many resort amenities including restaurants and shops and other facilities may be closed. the rules vary from canton to canton.

More than 100 Swiss areas were open from the weekend of 12th/13th December.

On 18th December a further Federal announcement was made listing more restrictions but allowing ski areas to stay open.

In the first month of winter most Swiss ski areas stayed open. Only the canton of Uri closed ski lifts briefly at Andermatt at the end of the year but they have since re-opened.

There are many strict limitations in place including in resort shops restaurants and hotels, many of which are closed.

The famous Lauberhorn World Cup downhill race in Wengen was cancelled in mid-January due to a local coronavirus spike. The ski centre stayed open to tourists though.

Swiss ski areas remain largely open and in early February the closures there have been have been caused by avalanche danger of strong winds. There have been outbreaks in resorts including St Moritz, Wengen and Arosa but these have swiftly been contained in individual hotels or, in one case, a school.

At the end of February Verbier said it would close its Bruson sector as operating costs are too high in the pandemic. But with cases falling cantons began announcing resorts will be able to stay open to the end of the season. The boss of Switzerland Tourism also said in an interview he felt Switzerland’s decision to open its slopes this winters had been proved correct so far.

On 24th February it was announced that shops and museums can reopen from March 1st, while restaurants can open from March 22nd. Ski resorts had been pushing for restaurants to be allowed to open sooner, if only outdoor terraces.

Switzerland During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic

Switzerland slowly eased its lockdown from May.  Zermatt, usually open for snowsports 365 days a year, re-opened on June 6th.

Saas Fee opened for it’s nine month season through to April 2021 in mid-July.

However on July 6th the country made wearing face masks on public transport (previously advised but not a legal requirement) a legal requirement. In terms of ski resorts operating ski lifts, this initially only impacts skiers at Zermatt.

“Since this morning it has become mandatory on all cable car cabins and gondolas run by Zermatt’s lift company to wear face masks. We ask you to observe these for the protection of yourselves and others and thank you for understanding,” a statement from Zermatt Bargbahnen advised on July 6th, adding,

“If you don’t carry a mask with you, you can buy mouth-nose protection at the kiosks of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG as well as in the Matterhorn glacier paradise restaurant.”

Shops, bars and restaurants re-opened from May 11th although with restrictions in place. 

Although now closed again, Crans Montana, announced on 28th May it would re-open its glacier slopes for a nine-day period from Saturday, 6th June.

A few small Swiss areas have decided it’s not viable on virus safety and/or financial grounds to open this winter.

USA

USA resorts reopening 2020
Mt Baldy Early May 2020

***Updated 2 February, 2021 ***

USA Social Distancing Requirement: 6 Feet (1.8 Metres)

USA Ski Centres Currently Open: 400+

Wild Mountain in Minnesota was the first ski area in the US (and North America) to open for winter 20-21 on Tuesday 20th October following low temps for snowmaking and some natural snowfall in the Midwest.

It was joined by Trollhaugen, over the state border in Wisconsin, on Sunday 25th October.

They were joined by Wolf Creek in Colorado opening a week later on 28th October after around two-feet (60cm) of snowfall there. Next to open in the state was Keystone on November 6th, then Arapahoe Basin on the 9th, Loveland on the 11th and Breckenridge on the 13th.

The ski season got underway in Montana on Halloween at the Great Divide ski area. The 4th area in the US to Open.

Lookout Pass was the first ski area to open for the season in Idaho for the new season, with fourteen trails open, five of them groomed on opening day, 14th November.

Crystal Mountain in Washington State opened on 18th November, two days earlier than planned, due to good snow conditions. Killington was first in the East on 20th November.

There have been many more areas open since then. However Taos delayed its planned opening in late November after the New Mexico state government announced pandemic operating restrictions.

Most of the country’s ski areas had opened by the start of December.

Ski areas in the US are offering a “very different” winter 2020-21.

Most opened as usual although some delayed opening for the season to ensure enough terrain is open when they do open.

Vail Resorts are limited early-season access to their Epic Pass season pass holders only, until December 8th. Pass holders now have priority booking for other days.

Many resorts are operating at 40-60% capacity limits on mountains to avoid over-crowding, the need to book lift tickets and mountain access in advance and those driving to the mountains to book car parking.

This has led to many resorts selling out of lift tickets, particularly at weekends an holiday periods.

Many other measures are being put in place to prevent the danger of spreading the virus when they open.

Even with all the safety measures resorts are subject to ever tougher operating restrictions from local and state health bodies and governments but so far all have been allowed to keep operating.

Californian ski areas seemed to come closest to closing in January when there was a stay-at-home order and hotels in resorts were closed, but this was lifted at the end of the month.

What happened in the US during the first 6 months of the pandemic?

The last resort still open in the US for winter 20-21 ended its season at the end of August.

It was a complex picture in the US during the period from March to June with different states having different lockdown rules, easing restrictions at different times.

All areas were closed for most of April until Mt Baldy in southern California decided that it could re-open if local golf course could. It stayed open to May 5th when the advance of spring weather appears to have led to its closure.

In Oregon an announcement of eased restrictions in early May meant
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area in Oregon re-opened on Friday, 15th May. Operating the longest season in North America, Timberline usually stays open to late summer and initially said it would stay open to September 7th this year.

It later brought closing day forward to August 30th after a month of very hot weather.

For July and August Timberline was the only US resort open, although the US ski team and other private groups were reported to have been training on snow at Copper Mountain in Colorado until mid-August.

In terms of other US ski areas that are usually open in late spring and in some cases early summer:

Mt Bachelor, a second Oregon resort, also re-opened, from May 16th, but only for 9 days to the 24th May, and only for season pass holders. Both areas sold out of lift tickets for re-opening day very fast.

In Vermont, although re-starting its summer mountain operations, Killington decided ‘on balance’ not to re-open for late-May snowsports on its Superstar trail, although the snow is there and it would usually open to the end of the month in a normal season.

In Minnesota Wild Mountain ski area groomed some of is remaining snow and installed rails and other features to create a hike-up terrain park which it opened on the afternoon of May 9th, charging $10 for access or free to season-pass holders.

In Colorado restrictions were eased a little in early May allowing people to enjoy outdoor recreation within 10 miles of their homes but this was quickly followed by a ban on ski areas re-opening before May 22nd. This led Aspen, which said it had been hoping to do so if permitted, to then say it wouldn’t re-open this spring. Wolf Creek had also been aiming to re-open.

On 25th May it was announced that Arapahoe Basin would re-open from Wednesday 27th May. This proved so popular the resort had to run a lottery to see who can buy lift tickers each day.  It later announced it would close for the season on June 7th due to snow conditions.

Crystal Mountain in Washington State announced a similar short re-opening, just 7 days after initially saying they’d re-open for a fortnight. They were open from June 1st to June 7th.

Other US areas that typically stay open to late spring so could possibly re-open if their states deem it safe to do so and they with and are able to include Mammoth and Squaw Valley in California and Snowbird in Utah but all gave snowsports a miss in spring 2020, although re-opening for summer activities.

The small Beartooth Basin summer ski area on the Montana/Wyoming border reopened for its 2020 season on June 1st and operated for just over three weeks to around June 23rd when it closed due to thin cover.


What has changed at ski resorts?

Ski resort safety

THE A-Z OF THE ‘NEW NORMAL ON THE WORLD’S SKI SLOPES…

Apres Ski

The apres ski scene looks like it will be quieter and socially distanced this winter. Austrian resorts, infamous for their crowded, lively bars at the base of the slopes, which some say caused fast virus spread in February and March, say winter 20-21 will see these toned-down dramatically with social distancing and quiet music playing, one describing them as “more like coffee lounges”

Car Parking

For skiers arriving by car, some resorts are providing timed arrival slots which must be booked in advance to avoid gatherings of people at the base. Others are requiring cars, like people, to be socially distanced – including Caviahue in Argentina:

Early Closure Calls

Some ski areas, most notably in Argentina when areas re-opened there from late July, have introduced a policy of deciding the day before if an area will open the next day, based on the forecast rather than the actual weather on the day. The idea is to avoid the danger of a lot of people gathering waiting together at the bottom of what turn out to be closed, storm-bound slopes.

Eating and Drinking

There are different approaches being employed in different ski areas. However there are common themes. Screens to separate distanced tables are common, as are the options of food delivery services. Some are offering a counter takeaway service only and some only outdoor dining with tables spaced two metres or more apart and the same rules of social distancing we are getting used to with groups that are together anyway able to eat and sit together but separate groups and individuals well spaced out. 

Mt Hutt, NZ, August 2020

For ski areas that attract a lot of self-driving clientele they’re promoting a “your car is your base lodge” approach with skiers encouraged to bring their own food and drink to consume in their cars during breaks.s

Faster Lifts

A number of ski areas in Europe and North America have announced they’ll be running their lifts faster, where that’s an option, this winter, to minimise time on board. This is along with frequent cleaning, contact-less-access open windows and mask wearing. Italy’s Alta Badia and Jackson Hole in the US are among resorts announcing this.

Health Certification

It’s not yet clear how much this will be an issue next winter but skiers in China have to prove to ski centres in advance of buying a ticket that they had a certificate to say they were virus-free before they were allowed to buy a lift ticket.

Hygiene

Ski areas that are currently open are making a lot of efforts to clean And disinfect public areas including lifts regularly and continuously and hand sanitisers are being made widely available for visiting skiers.

Ski resort hygiene 2020

Lift Tickets

Resorts are doing all they can to minimise human contact in the ticket purchasing process. This typically means buying your pass online and adding credit to an electronic pass.  If it’s a resort with a physical pass you’ll likely pay for online or on a site with a contactless card and collect it in a way that avoids human contact.

Limited Numbers

Some ski areas that have been operating in recent weeks and months have strictly limited the number of people allowed on site.  Many require you to buy your lift pass and book your time on the slopes at least a day in advance, you can no longer just roll-up.  Some have sold-out for several days in advance as a result. Reports from Australia indicated tickets at some resorts were snapped up for much of the season there. Some have also staggered arrival times at the base.

Masks and Gloves

Fortunately boarders and skiers and used to having their body’s covered to keep the cold and snow out, but most resorts now require gloves and masks to be worn at all times, particularly in indoor public spaces, in line with most governments around the world, not just when skiing downhill. 

Queuing for the Lift

We should see an end to any scrums at the base of the lifts as social distancing measures are put in to place with spacings generally marked on the ground 6 feet/2 metres apart.  It remains to be seen if resorts will offer extended opening times for lifts in peak periods in order to get enough people up the mountain.

Riding the Lift

Family groups and other groups that are already together are able to ride on chairs and in cabins together but otherwise, there’ll be social distancing with cable car/tram and gondola cabins as well as on chairlifts so the number of people getting in any individual cabin or on a chair will be dramatically reduced and face masks must be worn.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is LiftRulesMtBuller-002.jpg

Ski Rentals

Some ski areas have re-opened but said that only those with their own equipment could visit and that rentals would not be available – another move to minimise the risk of virus spread.

Ski School

Some re-opened resorts aren’t offering group lessons, only private classes.

Temperature Checks

A large number of ski areas are now scanning foreheads for your body temperature as well as your lift pass to check its valid.

(Chapelco in Argentina)

Toilets

A few smaller ski areas that have re=-opened have said their toilets won’t be open in a move to reduce the risk of virus spread. Others have opened their toilets but with only one persona allowed in at a time and social-distancing queuing outside, and of course lots of hand-sanitisers available.H

Weekend Closures

A number of re-opened ski areas are closing midweek or at other times. Unusually in Chile when ski areas re-opened there the busiest open days at the weekend were ruled out in order to keep numbers on the slopes deliberately low.

Southern Hemisphere 2020 ‘Pandemic Season’ Archive

Argentina

Argentina resorts reopening 2020

*** Updated 29 September 2020 ***

Argentina Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (6.6 Feet)

Argentina Ski areas Currently open: 0

Argentina had a strict lockdown in place from mid-March which appears to have limited the spread of the virus more effectively than in many other South American countries.  The lockdown was extended several times but was eased on a region-by-region basis from early August.

About five Argentinian ski areas opened during August and September 2020, the last of these closing again for the season on 28th September.

On July 23rd Cerro Catedral near he ski town of Bariloche became the first ski area in South America to open for the 2020 ski season. The centre is open for local skiers only with regional and international travel difficult and not advised.

Two more areas, Cerro Bayo and Cerro Castor announced they’d open to local skiers from Saturday, August 1st and Chapelco and other Argentinian ski areas have also now opened, Caviahue from 15th August.

Earlier in July when things began to ease slightly already at Cerro Castor down near Tierra del Fuego and the world’s most southerly developed ski area. It opening its resort base and ice rink to local people in the province and also allowed cross country skiing although until 1st August its lifts were not running and downhill slopes were closed.

However another of the country’s leading resorts, Las Lenas, announced in late-May that it won’t now open this season whatever happens.

Argentina’s ski-season would normally have begun in mid-June and usually runs to early October. Of the half-dozen ski areas that were open, centres began closing again for the end of the season from mid-September.

Cerro Castor closed on September 25th, Catedral on the 27th.

At the still closed ski areas in Argentina they were warning backcountry skiers during the winter and spring that they should not be hiking up to ski slopes in the Andes during the ongoing lockdown there. They warned there’d been no avalanche prevention measures and there are currently no rescue or medical staff on site whilst resorts were closed. As there had been a lot of snowfall, the avalanche danger was extreme.

Australia

Australia resorts reopening 2020

*** Last Updated 4 October 2020 ***

Australia Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)

Australia ski areas currently open: 0

2020 has really been a season like no other in Australia.

The country’s 2020 season got underway on 22nd June with Mt Baw Baw and Thredbo opening. This was a few weeks later than usual as Aussie ski areas normally open for the ski season around the first weekend of June, a national holiday weekend in the country. It lasted until 4th October when Perisher, the last area open, ended its season.

This year anticipation has been raised by huge autumn snowfalls at the start of May, with several smaller snowfalls and lowering temperatures since. June was drier but the snow returned in early July. However overall it was one of the warmer winters.

In the last week of May the provinces of New South Wales and Victoria, where most of the country’s ski centres are, both announced centres could start their seasons from June 22nd as pandemic restrictions are eased.

The next areas to open were Mt Baw Baw and Perisher on the 24th with fellow Vail Resorts owned Falls Creek and Hotham initially saying they’d open on the 29th June but later delaying to 6th July due to limited early snow cover.

Charlotte Pass had company operated accommodation open from Thursday 25th June with the ski slopes open from Friday 26th June. So all of the country’s leading ski areas had opened by July 6th, other than Mt Selwyn which will remain closed during the season due to bushfire damage which destroyed lifts earlier in the year.

However from July 8th operations of ski areas in Victoria (Falls Creek, Hotham, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller) were in some doubt following a spike in cases around the city of Melbourne. Residents from, areas of the city now in strict lockdown again who had bookings are being refunded payment and ski areas say they are reviewing operations.

Falls Creek and Hotham initially closed again for at least 6 weeks to August 19th -about 6 weeks from the end of the season, but then decided to stay closed. The state’s other two areas did stay open at that point though: Mt Baw Baw was opening weekends for snowsports and Mt Buller was open for much of July.

In an added twist, whilst operator Vail Resorts has closed the lifts at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham, the resorts themselves were still open, and other activities are available to people in Victoria, including back country skiing.

Pandemic-spread prevention measures meant the now-normal social-distancing and limited numbers on the mountain. Most areas operated at around 50% capacity and there was a 1.5 metre social distancing rule in place.

Thredbo initially put lift tickets on sale online on 10th June but had its site overloaded with more than 25,000 people trying to buy lift tickets in the first few hours they were on sale – so there was certainly demand.

There was another twist later in July as the pandemic in Victoria worsened and the state’s government reimposed restrictions meaning Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw have had to close again.

This was reviewed on September 13th but Buller and Mt Baw Baw did not re-open, in part due to poor snow conditions after a warm winter. Vail Resorts had already said Falls Creek and Mt Hotham won’t now re-open this winter though, whatever happened in mid-September.

In the meantime a short season began at Ben Lomond in Tasmania as there was finally adequate snow cover.

Thredbo ended its season on 22nd September citing poor snow conditions. It’s also worth remembering even before the virus was a known danger, one Australian area, Selwyn, had already ruled out opening in 2020 after it was destroyed by bush fires at the very start of the year.

Chile

*** Last Updated 11 October, 2020 ***

Chile Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (6.6 Feet)

Chile Ski Centres Open: 0

Chile’s season usually starts in mid-June but the country has been is a strict lockdown since the autumn which only began to be slightly eased in mid-August.

The last of the three ski areas that re-opened there in late summer ended its season on 11th October 2020.

There were signs from the start of August that ski areas might be allowed to open and resorts have been stressing they have so much snow they might be able to stay open until November – if they did get the chance to open.

Some started opening to non-skiing day visitors although lifts and runs remained closed, then on the 11th August the government announced some areas could open with restrictions.

La Parva was the first to say it would do so, to season pass holders only, from the 18th August, El Colorado followed on the 19th. A third, Corralco, opened on 29th August, Others said the remainder of the ski season was so limited and their costs to open so high with all the COVID related restrictions it was not worth them opening for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Ski areas were only open to local people with season passes or similar, and unusually they were not allowed to open at weekends. Other measures at resorts that have reopened including cutting hill capacity by up to 70%, only one person per chairlift seat, limits on numbers in mountain restaurants and so on.

In the end only the three areas opened in Chile in 2020. La Parva was the first of the three to end its season, on 25 September, followed by El Colorado on the 4th October and finally Corralco on the 11th October.

Earlier in the Pandemic in Chile

The initial three month state-of-emergency began in mid-March but in mid-June the government announced a further three month extension to mid-September, the end of the ski season.

The country has unfortunately been one of the hardest hit in South America and the entire world by the virus – in terms of known infections.

Portillo said in mid-June that it has proactively set is planned opening date back about a month to July 18th and was offering 100% refund guarantee or free re-booking for 2021 for those who want to reserve a place in the hope that they would be able to open then.

However on June 23rd it announced it had suspended its opening date indefinitely” – until it had “better news” on being able to open.

In May Chile’s Asociacion de Centros de Ski de Chile, an association of 12 of the country’s resorts, put together proposal on the safe operation of ski lifts and other facilities during the pandemic. It organised a Webinar with senior tourism staff from the Chilean government in late July – stressing that it had a plan to operate ski areas safely in terms of the pandemic, and the need for skiing for good physical and mental well-being, as well as economic reasons.

Lesotho

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Afriski-15-June-2.jpg

*** Updated September 29th, 2020 ***

South Africa Social Distancing Requirement: 1.8 Metres (6 Feet)

Lesotho Ski Areas Currently Open: 0

Lesotho has one small ski area, Afriski (pictured above on 15 April), which was originally due to open for the season at the start of June. Afriski later announced that now that Lesotho has fully re-opened its economy, it would open for its 2020 season on 18th June.

However although its borders remain closed, it did open some terrain to locals and thus became the first southern hemisphere ski area to open on June 5th, 2020.

It was the first ski area in the southern hemisphere to open for its 2020 season. In the end it operated all winter with Lesotho-only skiers as the South African border did not open.

The resort closed for the season on it’s normal closing date: 30th August.

In a statement about their opening plans back in May, Afriski’s team said,

“The big unknown unfortunately rests on the SA governments decision on when to ease travel restrictions. Fortunately, the Lesotho government has taken a far more progressive, yet responsible, stance relating to the re-opening of their hospitality and food and beverage sector. Despite this uncertainty we have decided to take a leap of faith.”

“This will further ensure great snow production and the best skiing conditions possible,” the statement said.

The centre’s statement also confirms virus-safety is the new priority and therefore their prime focus is on being a COVID safe and ready destination.

The same Health and Safety standards applied to companies were applied at the resort through the season including temperature checks for staff and guests in combination with the required personal and company PPE standards which will soon become the norm everywhere. Other practical measures such as adjusted seating plan and mealtimes at the Sky Restaurant together with improved take away and delivery offering from Sky and Gondola are some of the measures were put in place.

Commenting on whether skiers should book to visit the resort before their season began the statement concluded,

“Our hope is that you do indeed say Yes! It is of course a risk but it is equally a vote of confidence and a step in the right direction to reclaim the world that we once knew. The resort, and indeed the entire tourism ecosystem, now depends on the faith of every single guest willing to contribute and support their favourite holiday destinations through this crazy period on planet earth.”  “In the end hospitality is about people and it’s a great injustice that an entire army of individuals dedicated to social cohesion are being forced toward the abyss of extinction due to an alien in town called social distancing. We hope our guests see their holiday booking as a vote of confidence for the continuation of travel and hospitality.”

Afriski said they were granted a care and maintenance concession enabling them to keep their team on the mountain during the lockdown period to complete critical projects ahead of the coming ski season. These included the completion of a new high-altitude dam which will gravity feed a 40,000m3 water reserve into the resort’s snowmaking network which will add 50% more snowmaking capacity to their already extensive system.

New Zealand

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mt-Hut-12-June-3-1024x683.jpg

*** Updated October 18th 2020 ***

New Zealand Social Distancing Requirement: 0 Metres

New Zealand Ski Areas Currently Open: 0

New Zealand has been held up as an example of how to handle the pandemic well, with few infections there.

The country has had a relatively normal season in terms of operating without the need for masks or social distancing, unlike any other country in fact, other than a period from early August to early September when restrictions were reintroduced.

Most ski areas in the country had closed by mid-October but two centres on Mt Ruapehu on the country’s North Island planned to stay open to mid-November snow permitting. They admitted defeat on 26th October however, ending New Zealand’s and the southern hemisphere’s 2020 season.

Pandemic era operations in New Zealand during 2020

The country moved to a loosened ‘level 3’ lockdown in May which meant ski centres were among bodies that could start to see staff back on the mountains, preparing for the start of the June or July seasons.

The further loosened Level 2 was reached on May 14th meaning most areas say they aim to open on schedule with all now increasingly usual anti-virus-spread measures in place.

Then on June 8th they announced Level 1 would be introduced meaning no social distancing would be required on the slopes and mountain restaurants and other indoor spaces could operate normally.

Things continued in that happy ‘old normal’ vein’ for two almost two months when, after no new cases for 102 days, four people tested positive in Auckland, leading the NZ government to re-introduce Level 2 on 12th August, the first time the country’s ski areas had to act with social distancing and other anti-COVID measures.

These were eased again back to Level 1 on 22nd Sepember, just as ski areas began closing for the season. Way back before the start of the season Mt Ruapehu had previously announced the southern hemisphere’s earliest opening date, May 30th, for its Happy Valley snow play and learning area at Whakapapa which has all weather snowmaking. This was postponed to July 1st however.

In the event therefore Mt Hutt was the first full ski area to open, on June 12th (a week after its originally given June 5th). It also became the first ski area in the world to open with no social-distancing or other requirements (at the time and for the first two months of the season) for more than three months.

Several other centres announced their planned opening dates were to be delayed and that opening would be weekends-only for much of the season.

Seven centres had opened by the end of June however – the most open in the world at that point. The first boarder seen there in 2020, possibly for the entire southern hemisphere, is pictured above at Coronet Peak on May 5th. S

South Africa

South Africa resorts reopening 2020

*** Updated 23 September 2020 ***

South Africa Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)

South Africa Ski Centres Currently Open: 0

South Africa had had the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa, as of the start of May, but decided to start easing its lockdown after five weeks at the end of April due to what was perceived as wider harm being caused by the restrictions.

The easing of restrictions allows for some limited outdoor activity but only for a few hours a day. 

At the beginning of June South Africa moved to lockdown alert Level 3. Under this level, all hotels and establishments can operate only if they are providing accommodation for people travelling for business. According to the regulations at the time, no accommodation establishments or attractions were allowed to open for leisure purposes. Restrictions were eased further but at the end of June it was reported that tourism would not be allowed to restart until September.

That was further bad news for the country’s one small ski area, Tiffindell, which was due to open for is 2020 season in early June and has been snowmaking and seen some natural snowfall too. In the end though it was unable to open for 2020 making South Africa the first and only country in the world where no ski area opened for an entire season due to the virus.

Operations are currently on hold and with the season normally running to the end of August it now looks like there’l be no 2020 ski season in South Africa.

News Headlines From Earlier in the Pandemic

JANUARY

  • Spain’s Sierra Nevada ski area has been allowed to stay open, to local skiers only after Andalucia brought in tougher new pandemic restrictions. It had previously been feared the resort would have to close. (16 Jan). 
  • Uncertainty continues as to whether Italian ski areas will be able to re-open on 18th January (next Monday), as has been the provisional date for a few weeks now since the original 7th January date passed. The country’s regions are currently being divided in to colour coded levels according to pandemic levels with Veneto and Lombardy in orange (the middle rating) for now, and South Tyrol in the highest, red. Currently it is being suggested maximum capacity at re-opened ski areas would be 30-40% of the norm.  Ski areas are questioning whether people living in the lowest infection areas (yellow) will be allowed to travel to them and whether they will be able to cover their operating costs. Some are saying it would be better to delay and ‘open well’ for the last few months of the season than ‘open badly’ on the 18th. (12 Jan)
  • Austria has delayed its opening of its tourism industry and ski lifts again, now to at least 24th January (5 Jan)
  • Austria has delayed its planned opening to ski tourism (slopes are currently only open to ‘locals’) until at least January 18th. At that point ski tourism may resume if infection rates are much lower than at present. (4 Jan)

2020

DECEMBER

  • Ski areas in Germany won’t open until later in January (they had originally hoped to from the 7th) due to a full lockdown there.
  • Slovenia has banned the operation of ski lifts until January 1st in a ‘short notice’ decree. Inspectors are reported to have fined the managers of Krvavec ski resort 4400 Euros after they continued to operate (27 December).
  • Austria’s Molltal Glacier has closed again after a few days operations, apparently as they cannot make enough money from limited visitor numbers due to the virus to cover operating costs, although no official reason has been published. The country has entered a third lockdown to January 24th. (27 December).
    Ski areas in Austria are able to start opening for the 20-21 season from today. Initially to local people only. Hundreds have opened on Christmas Eve. (24 December).
  • Ski areas in Scotland are reacting in different ways to the move to tier 4 from Saturday. Glencoe and The Lecht say they’ll stay open to local skiers only; Cairngorm say they’re closing; Glenshee that they’ll decide what to do after Christmas. Nevis Range had already closed in to 2021. (23 December).
  • South Korea will close ski resorts and other tourist attractions from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3 in a bid to control a virus surge (22 December)
  • Ski areas in the Czech republic are to close until at least January 10th. (22 December)
  • Big White has been declared safe to all those who follow virus safety advice by the local health body after more than 70 staff test positive for the coronavirus there (20 December).
  • Most Swiss ski areas now appear certain to stay open for Christmas (19 December)
  • Formigal, one of the leading ski areas in Spain, say they won’t be able to open for Christmas from December 23rd as planned, due to the pandemic. (19 December).
  • Ski season starts in Czech Republic this weekend with Spindleruv Mlyn opening Friday 18th. (15 Dec).
  • The Saslong lift company in Italy, which runs some of the lifts in Val Gardena including the famous World Cup race course about to be hosting it’s annual races, has announced it won’t open this season (although the races are still on) (15 Dec)
  • Bad news from Big White in Canada where a cluster of more than 60 coronavirus cases have been confirmed by testing. (16 December)
  • Ski areas in Estonia and Latvia have opened for the ski season. (15 Dec).
  • Les 2 Alpes in France say they’ll groom two blue pistes, the longest with 750 metres of vertical, for ski tourers to use over Christmas and New Year (15 Dec)
  • Serbia’s leading resort Kopaonik has opened for the 20-21 season. (14 Dec)
  • Some reports indicate ski areas in Andorra may now open on 3rd January, earlier than previously thought (14 Dec).
  • Bansko in Bulgaria say they’ll open for the season this Thursday, 17th December (14 Dec).
  • Ski season underway in Slovenia. Lifts are open at Kranjska Gora, Pohorje above Maribor and at Krvavec, but only for locals, with apres ski banned.
  • Reuters report the French government is looking at January 7th as the probable season start date – lining up with Austria and Italy (12 December)
  • Ski areas in Catalonia say they’ll open for the 2020-2021 season next Monday, December 14. Resorts including Baqueira Beret say they’ll open “with all the relevant Covid19 security measures.” With Ski areas in Andorra and the French Pyrenees closed until January only ski areas in the Spanish Pyrenees will be open over Xmas/NY (11 Dec).
  • Italy’s ski season set to begin on 7th January. (11 Dec).
  • Ski areas have begun opening for the 20-21 ski season in Turkey. Ejder 3200 ski area near Erzurum offered free ski sessions to health workers fighting the virus today. (11 Dec).
  • Leitariegos ski area is the first ski area in Spain to open, to locals only. (10th December).
  • The group which represents French ski resorts, Domaines Skiables de France, is suing the French government over its plans to shut down ski areas over Christmas and New Year (10 Dec).
  • Portugal’s Serra da Estrela ski area is the first to open on the Iberian peninsular (10 Dec).
  • Ski areas in Poland have begun opening for the 20-21 season, although only to local skiers with tourism closed. Białka Tatrzańska was one of the first of the country’s ski centres to open, on December 5th (9 Dec).
  • Scandinavia’s largest area, Are, say it will open on December 18th (9 Dec)
  • Ski areas in Spain appear to be allowed to open by the government there, against the wishes of their EU neighbour nations to the east, however many Spanish ski areas won’t open for now for various logistical reasons, many virus related. One of the country’s largest, Baqueira Beret, say they do plan to open for the season on Thursday 10th December. With ski areas closed in Andorra and France it will be one of the few resorts open in the Pyrenees. The French Prime Minister says there will be border patrols to try to intercept French skiers heading to Spain or Switzerland (5 December).
  • Ski areas in Poland will be permitted to open from 8th December, according to reports. (5 December)
  • Concerns raised over slope safety in France when resorts are closed. (4 December)
  • Larger ski resorts in Japan are opening for their 2020-21 season including Appi, Hunter Mountain and Rusutsu. (4 December)
  • Larger resorts in Norway are starting to open including Geilo and (next week) Hemsedal (4 December).
  • Slovakia’s leading ski area of Jasna will open for the season tomorrow, although with tickets limited to season pass holders initially. (4 December).
  • There’s increasing anger in mountain regions and resorts in France and Italy at the closure of ski slopes over Christmas and new year from the region’s businesses. (3rd December).
  • Andorra has announced resorts will stay closed until January. (3 December).
  • France announces border guards to stop skiers heading in to Switzerland at Christmas (2nd December).
  • Austria has announced its ski lifts can re-open from Christmas Eve, but only for locals with hotels and restaurants, 2021 (2nd December).
  • The opening of ski areas in Quebec has given hope to people according to the region’s ski areas association president. (2 December)
  • Ski areas in France expect to get an update on the government’s closure of the slopes over Christmas and new year on December 11th. (2 December)

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER

  • Turoa and Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand will stay open to late-spring (mid-November) this year, snow permitting, to give kiwis that chance to hit the slopes for longer in a tough year, its operator says. (29 September).
  • Glacier 3000 near Gstaad and les Diablerets in Switzerland has opened for winter 20-21 nearly 6 weeks earlier than planned after a 70cm late September snowfall at the weekend (28 September)
  • Another three Austrian glacier ski areas are expected to open for their 2020-21 ski seasons at the weekend, taking the country’s total to five – the most in the world right now after New Zealand. The Mölltal Glacier, Kaunertal Glacier and Sölden’s glacier all plan to open. (23 September)
  • Badger Pass ski area, California’s oldest ski area and located within Yosemite National Park, has announced it won’t open for the 2020-21 ski season. An online statement from the resort says, “Due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, Badger Pass Ski Area will not open for the 2020-21 season,” but does not elaborate on why it is different here to other Californian ski areas which are opening. (23 Sepember)
  • Ski areas in France are confirming that at present they plan to operate without limits on the number of people using lifts, nor on the mountain, beyond normal limits. Frequent cleaning will be in place and skiers and boarders will need to wear masks. The announcements are in line with those already made by Austrian ski areas and may change if French government policy changes. (22 Sepember).
  • A number of ski areas in North America have announced additional outdoor temporary dining facilities to improve social-distancing options. Telluride is looking at using gondola cabins. (22 September).
  • New Zealand’s ski areas have started closing for the 2020 season but most of the country, including the areas where the ski centres are, are going back down to level 1 virus restrictions, as of Tuesday 22 September, meaning face masks and social distancing are no longer required again. (21 September).
  • Austria’s Pitztal Glacier has opened for the 2020 ski season. (19 September).
  • Sun Peaks, which operates the second largest ski area in Canada, has announced it has sold out of season passes for the coming winter. These guarantee slope access through the season when reduced numbers will be allowed on the mountain due to the pandemic – in common with most North American ski areas (18 Sept).
  • Val Senales has opened for its 2020-21 ski season in Italy, joining already-open Passo Stelvio (18 September).
  • A number of ski areas in Europe and North America have announced they’ll be running their lifts faster, where that’s an option, this winter, to minimise time on board. This is along with frequent cleaning, contact-less-access open windows and mask wearing. Italy’s Alta Badia and Jackson Hole in the US are among resorts announcing this. (16 September).
  • Copper Mountain, usually one of the first to open for the season in North America and the world, in early November, say they’ll open a little later for 20-21, just after Thanksgiving, to avoid the risk of too many skiers on potentially limited early-season terrain. Most other North American ski areas are so far announcing usual opening dates. (6 Sept).
  • Austrian ski areas confirm no social distancing needed this winter in lifts: “Mountain railways are part of public transport in Austria. Accordingly, mouth and nose protection must be worn in all closed vehicles such as gondolas and armchairs with hoods. This makes it possible to use the transport equipment with the usual capacity – e.g. 8 people in an 8-seater gondola, 6 people on a 6-seater chair, etc.),” a statement on the COVID19 pages of Austria’s Wildschonau region explains.  Other Austrian resorts now have similar clarity. (3 Sept).
  • Vail Resorts have announced their operating plans for their 34 North American resorts this winter. Holders of their Epic Pass season tickets will have exclusive access to the slopes until December 8th then priority access for the remainder of the season. (2 Sept)

AUGUST

JULY

JUNE

MAY

2020 Calendar Archive

JUNE 2020

June 1: Beartooth Basin summerski area in US opened for 2020.

June 1: Crystal Mountain in Washington State, opens for summer skiing.

June 5: Mt Hutt scheduled to open in New Zealand (delayed to June 12th).

June 5: Stryn glacier new season start date (delayed again to June 12th).

June 5: Afriski is first ski area in southern hemisphere to open for winter 2020.

June 6:  Zermatt re-opens. Crans Montana re-opens ski slopes for 9 days.June 6: Austria’s Molltal glacier opens for 2020-21 ski season.

June 6: Les 2 Alpes and Val d’Isere open for glacier skiing for ski team training. Val d’Isere also offering public skiing.

June 7: Tiffindel, South Africa, aimed to start season (but could not).

June 7: Arapahoe Basin, Crystal Mountain and Kaunertal end ski seasons.

June 12: First full scale southern hemisphere ski resort starts 2020 season – Mt Hutt in NZ.

June 13: Italy’s ski-season restarts at Passo Stelvio.

June 18: Riksgransen in Swedish Arctic Circle re-opening for midsummer skiing.

June 20: Tignes aims to open for summer skiing.

June 20: Cervinia provides ski lift access to Zermatt’s glacier as borders reopen.

June 22: Thredbo and Mt Baw Baw season start.

June 24: Perisher and Mt Buller season start.

June 26: Charlotte Pass opens for 2020 season.

June 27: Les 2 Alpes to open for summer skiing for all.



Common Sense

Please note that we are a ski and snowboarding information site and exist to provide snowfall information to people who love skiing and snowboarding …whether we’re in lockdown due to a pandemic or not. By endeavouring to provide information on what is open or opening we are certainly NOT implying that now is the time to try to break through closed borders to travel to the slopes. But there will be a time in the future when we can travel again, and we think most people can cope with knowing the truth about the current state of the ski world, and dream about getting back to it when safe to do so.  That’s what we’re here for.

3 Comments
  1. […] Currently there are more than 35 ski areas open in 10 countries on 5 continents, with the only closed areas that would usually be open at this time in Chile and South Africa.  […]

  2. […] Austria, Spain, Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden but closed in France, Italy, and Germany, where governments have decreed the risk of spreading the virus is too high. But with few tourists able to travel, locals and those living nearby have had the run of the […]

    • Baz

      9th February 2021 4:58 pm

      Risk of spreading the virus is too high…. total nonsense. In the UK for example they are saying that same line of twaddle. No people can travel into or out of UK except for exceptional circumstances because of the suppose increased risks if someone comes into the Uk with a case of COVID… need I point out there are over 1 million active cases in the UK already of our highly sought after Kent strain…. So where pray tell is the high risk of 10 people coming into the UK with a wee spot of covid, when we’ve already got millions of cases of our own… And situation is exactly the same pretty much everywhere in Europe and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, so what’s the point in curtailing everyone’s lives ad nauseam??? Seems like an exercise in futility to me. Not to mention that you’re highly unlikely to get sick if you’re under approx 60 years of age anyway. Storm in a teacup right from the start. And I know, the hospitals etc etc… protect the NHS and so on. Let’s see if this is still the case in another year, with all the hysteria upon hysteria about every little change this rather non lethal virus takes… All we needed to do from the start of this was… take a deep breath, not panic… identify the at risk populations, protect them effectively, and let everyone of working age and lower go about life basically as normal… job done with herd immunity, and no ridiculous cost to the tax payer and obviously less in terms of people’s jobs going down the pan. Utter nonsense, but what can we expect from our celebrity PM in Downing St…

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