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European Ski Season In Doubt As Resorts Stay Closed

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With the Covid-19 situation in various countries in Europe failing to improve, and the popular skiing period of Christmas and the New Year already lost to the pandemic, there is a real chance that this year’s ski season may pass without millions able to take to the slopes.

With several countries either closing resorts or closing lifts, time is running out for skiers and snowboarders to be able to make their pilgrimage to the slopes and lodges of Europe. Here’s a look at the situation in Europe’s top ski destinations, and when they might be open for business once more.

alps ski chalet

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France is an extremely popular spot for those looking to hit the slopes in Europe. Home to the famous Val Thorens ski resort – a destination that welcomes 400,000 guests per season and is home to 68 runs – France offers something for skiers of all levels, and boasts the biggest lift and piste networks in the world.

skiers mountain snow

However, the ski industry in France is suffering. Whilst resorts may be open to guest, ski lifts are currently not operating – meaning that would-be travelers face arduous hikes in the snow to get to their destinations. The government met last week to discuss the possibility of re-opening the ski lifts on January 7th, yet it was deemed to be too early as cases remained high.  With the next decision expected on January 20th, a decision would come with very little time in the season remaining.

Italy’s Slopes – Set To Re-open?

Italy is also a popular destination for skiers. Home to Europe’s highest mountain range, the Dolomites, plenty of ski resorts can be found on its slopes and beyond, which are popular with both international and domestic skiers.

skiing ski jump snow

The current skiing situation in Italy is bleak, with resorts and lifts both closed since October as the country struggled to control the spread of the virus. There may be some cause for celebration, as the planned opening date of January 18th is just around the corner. However, this is a date that has already been pushed back once and reopening may yet be delayed once more, with daily case numbers hovering around 20,000.

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Skiing In Switzerland – A Glimmer of Hope?

Skiing is synonymous with Switzerland, a country that boasts the largest number of skiers by proportion of population in Europe. Unlike many countries in Europe, Switzerland resisted the urge to close its slopes, remaining open but with restrictions in place to ensure safety.

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The number of skiers on each day has been limited, whilst queueing is done in a social distancing-conforming way and hand sanitizer is available in several locations. Ski lifts have seen their capacities reduced by a third, whilst masks are mandatory in all areas apart from on the slopes themselves. Whilst skiing might be possible in Switzerland, entrance to the country has been severely restricted, with those from high-risk countries unable to enter.

covid skiing ski mountain empty

Locals Only

There are several countries in Europe that have lifts and slopes in operation, yet only allow locals to use them. Austria, Scandinavia, Andorra, Spain and Bulgaria are among the countries that are open only for locals to use, as countries and resorts insulate themselves from the spread of the virus. However, should international travel become more relaxed and the situation improves in the near future, travelers may yet get to ski in these destinations this season.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Monday 11th of January 2021

They closed ski resorts because of the new mutant skiing strain. What a joke these restrictions are. It's about compliance, not safety.