How To Prepare For Getting Back To The Slopes This Winter
Like much of the travel industry, winter sports have been greatly affected by the pandemic. But the good news is that skiing, snowboarding and apres-ski looks set to be back in contention this year, with resorts looking forward to throwing open their chalet doors after largely skipping out the 20/21 winter season.
Of course, we can expect a few changes on the slopes. Many resorts require proof of vaccination or recovery, or a negative test at least. And ski-loving families will need to research carefully as only some places allow unvaccinated children.
But it’s nothing a little planning won’t solve. With extra thought, we’ll be back on the slopes nursing a hot chocolate after a good day’s run in no time. Here’s an overview on how the winter sports season is looking for 2021/22 – although it’s always vital to check with official sources to make sure you have the most up to date information whether prior to booking or to travel!
What are the entry requirements?
Different countries have laid out different rules when it comes to reopening ski resorts, but the upshot is that you’ll have a much wider choice if all your companions have been double vaccinated.
In Italy, those aged 13 and over must be vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID, or have a negative antigen (ie lateral flow) test taken within the previous 48 hours to access ski resorts. Social distancing and masks are required indoors, and some busy outdoor spaces.
In France, those aged 12 and over will need to present the ‘pass sanitaire’ app for access to bars, restaurants, and swimming pools. You can get this with proof of full vaccination, proof of a negative PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours, or proof of recent recovery. Face masks are mandatory on ski lifts.
In Austria, skiers aged 12 and over will need to be double vaccinated or have a negative antigen (ie lateral flow) test taken within the previous 24 hours to enter other public spaces like restaurants and cable cars. A PCR test lasts longer: its result is valid for 72 hours. Those aged six and over will need to wear face masks in enclosed spaces.
In Switzerland, to use indoor areas like bars and restaurants at ski resorts, you’ll need to have proof of COVID vaccination or recent recovery. If you don’t have this, you’ll need to take a negative PCR or antigen test every three days.
In Canada, those over the age of 12 will need to be fully vaccinated to enter without quarantining, and in Germany, skiers and snowboarders of any age will need to be fully vaccinated to enter without quarantining.
What changes have resorts made to be COVID safe?
Once you’ve selected a destination, you’ll need to check with your chosen resort to understand any extra measures, as they vary on an individual basis. Some have made masks mandatory, others might be operating at a lower capacity than usual, and there’ll no doubt be more rigorous cleaning and disinfecting than usual.
How to prepare
Before booking a package holiday, make sure your company is ATOL-protected so you’ll have the reassurance of knowing that you’ll get your money back on the rare chance that the company goes bust.
Travel insurance that covers you for winter sports activities specifically, as well as COVID-19 related issues, is also a must-have. Switched On’s travel policies include automatic protection for certain issues related to COVID-19 such as medical expenses, cancellation, and curtailment. While our COVID-19 PROTECT add-on offers enhanced protection for a range of additional issues for greater peace of mind for those travelling to Europe. You can add winter sports cover for a small additional charge and be protected for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and much more.
Also, make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card or its replacement, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This will support you with medically necessary state healthcare while you’re in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free (although you can’t use the cards in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, or in Norway. However you can use a UK passport to access medically necessary healthcare in Norway). The GHIC is free – you just have to apply for it via the nhs.uk website.
How will Brexit affect winter sports holidays?
As with travel anywhere in Europe now, you’ll need to make sure you have at least three months left on your passport, and you may need to allow more time for checks at airports or at borders. If you’re driving to your destination, make sure to check the relevant country’s requirements to see what rules they have in place.
Return of mobile roaming charges
Winter sports fans, or anyone for that matter planning to jet away in January, should be warned that EE and Vodafone will begin charging £2 a day to use UK mobile phones in Europe from the 1st.
Switched On’s Travel Insurance is packed with features to give you total confidence that should an incident or issue occur while you’re away from home our expert team will be on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help and support you when you need it most! Click here to find out more.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing but as things can change it’s important for everyone to check the latest rules and regs at gov.uk (or please visit the website of the relevant devolved government) prior to making any arrangements.