Covid-19: Is it safe to ski in the Swiss Alps this season?

Covid-19: Is it safe to ski in the Swiss Alps this season?
Masks are obligatory on ski lifts. Photo by AFP
Ski season has already started in some parts of Switzerland. In others, it will begin soon. What measures are in place in mountain resorts to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

There are 339 ski resorts in the Swiss Alps, which operate total of 1,815 ski lifts.

All of them must adhere to the rules mandated at both national and cantonal levels.

Each lift operator can add their own measures on top of those already in place. The Swiss Ski Lift Association (SSLA) is implementing the following rules:

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Face masks

They are mandatory not only in closed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

But masks are not obligatory on the slopes.

In addition, queuing will be regulated so it “runs in an orderly manner and without major clusters”.

READ MORE: Will an American-style queuing system end chaos at Swiss ski lifts?

Also, gel disinfectant will be available throughout all the structures to ensure hand hygiene.

Police patrol lift departure areas to make sure everyone is respecting the anti-Covid measures.

SSLA recommends purchasing passes online ahead of time to avoid crowds gathering at ticket windows.

Is the number of passengers in cable cars limited?

No. “As is generally the case with public transport, capacity limitations are not imposed”, SSLA says.

However, cable car windows are open to provide ventilation.

But there are individual ski areas that are stricter in this regard. Andermatt-Sedrun, for example, has limited the number of people in the Gemsstock ski area.

Reservations are necessary for cable cars. 

Which masks are most suitable for winter sports?

“In principle, industrially manufactured hygiene masks are mandatory”, SSLA says.

But “various manufacturers are currently working on the development and production of special, certified ski tube face mask”. These ‘ski tubes’ would make it much easier to put on and take off the mouth and nose protection. Conventional neck tubes without certification are not permitted, SSLA added.

Is it safe for children to go to a ski school?

According to SSLA, schools have to ensure that large clusters of people don’t gather in one place.

Accordingly, lessons will be spaced out — both in time and distance.

Also, longer breaks are planned between various categories at the ski races so that the groups of spectators don't mix.

How safe are these regulations overall?

“The protection plans I have seen are very good and include all the important points”, said Kathrin Summermatter, head of biosafety unit at the Institute of Infectious Diseases at the University of Bern. 

And State Councillor Hans Wicki noted that “with these measures, we are equipped to make skiing enjoyable without compromising safety”.


READ MORE: Can Switzerland still save its ski season?

 


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