Update 27/1/2022: The Austrian government have just announced that double vaccinated travellers need not take a pre-departure test before arriving in Austria, and have loosened up restrictions on children and teenagers.
Skiing in 2022: A return to normality?
After almost two years off, the hope both in the UK and across the continent that 2021-22 might herald a return to some sort of normality for the ski industry. For those who've received two doses of the Covid vaccination, travel to Europe is relatively straightforward, and countries where 'green pass' regulations apply (such as Italy, Austria and France) all recognise NHS vaccine certificates.
Despite some early hiccups (including travel bans by France and Switzerland) UK tour operators are still relatively upbeat about the prospects for the 2021 - 22 season. Many, like Crystal Ski Holidays, for example, are offering Covid-19 insurance, with the guarantee that if destinations are put on quarantine lists – or if customers test positive and are unable to travel – they will be able to change their holiday dates free of charge.
There is some understandable confusion around changing health rules, but the good news is that resorts actively want people to come skiing, and will make it as easy as possible for people to do so – within the rules. The general impression from members of the Snow team who've visited resorts so far is that these rules are not as complicated on the ground as they sound on paper.
Quarantine & Omicron: What's the UK Doing?
At the time of writing (14th January) fully vaccinated travellers returning from Continental Europe will have to prove that they are fully vaccinated, fill in a passenger locator form, and take a PCR or lateral flow test on or before day two of their return.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated are required to take a COVID-19 test two days before they are due to travel to the UK, book and pay for PCR tests on day two and day eight of their return to the UK and complete the passenger locator form.
Best website for live information: All quarantine and entry/exit requirements are subject to change and you should check the up-to-date Foreign Office travel advice.
Skiing in France in 2022:
Update 27/1/22: France is once again open to UK tourists! Travellers must be fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID test taken no more than 24 hours before travel, but travel is no longer restricted to essential trips only.
Best website for live information: The English version of the French ministry of Foreign Affairs website tells you everything you need about current restrictions for travelling to France. Check the website of the resort you're travelling to for current rules on masks.
Green pass / vaccination certificate rules: The pass sanitaire is required to ride on ski lifts, and to enter restaurants, bars etc. Adults over the age of 12 must show proof that they are fully vaccinated (with both doses of a double dose vaccine). For vaccinated Brits, the QR codes you get from the NHS app work as proof of your pass sanitaire. From 15th January, things are expected to become more complicated, as adults over the age of 18 will need to have had a booster dose of the vaccine within 7 months of their second dose, or else their NHS QR codes won't be recognised.
Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the vaccination certificate requirements, but things get more complicated for teenagers. In the UK, 12-18 year olds can only get one dose of the vaccine as it stands, which won't be enough to qualify them for a pass sanitaire. Teenage children will therefore have to test every 24 hours.
Masks: Lifts are treated like public transport, and wearing a mask is compulsory for all adults - both on the lift and while queuing. Masks are also required to access indoor dining areas and après bars, all though you can take them off when you reach your table. Masks are required in all ski shops.
Skiing in Austria in 2022:
Update 27/1/22: Austria's ski resorts are open, and welcoming British tourists. They've just relaxed their restrictions on pre-departure testing, and on kids and teenagers too.
Best website for live information: The brilliantly clear Austrian tourist board site is the best place to keep up with the latest information about rules and restrictions.
Green pass / vaccination certificate rules: Austria has what it calls the "2-G-rule" in place. Essentially, this means only proof of vaccination – or proof of recent recovery from infection – will get you the green pass that you need to be able to ride lifts, stay in hotels and enter indoor dining spaces. Après ski is cancelled for the time being. Unlike France, getting regular negative tests will not be accepted as a substitute. The NHS QR codes showing proof of vaccination work in Austrian scanners.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated (double jabbed) AND have received the 3rd booster jab (or the second shot in case you were jabbed with Johnson & Johnson) can enter Austria without a pre-departure test. However, they will need to take a test within 48 hours of arrival, but that's not difficult – they're available in all resort pharmacies and even some supermarkets. If you have recovered from COVID and received two jabs (no matter in what order), this counts as a booster as well, but proof of recovery is only valid for 180 days ie. 6 months.
Vaccine certificates will only be considered valid for 270 days (9 months) after the most recent dose for entry into the country, but if you want to get into restaurants, they're only valid for 180 days (6 months) after the most recent dose.
Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: Children under the age of 12 are exempt from green pass / vaccination certificate rules. Teenagers are not, but Austria has introduced a "Ninja Holiday Pass", which clears unvaccinated teens for travel as long as they test on day 1, day 3 and day 5 of their holiday.
Masks: Masks are mandatory on all public transport, in cable cars, and in all enclosed ski lifts. They're required to enter shops too, although not to enter restaurants. People over the age of 12 must wear FFP-2 masks. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are allowed to wear any mask, and children under the age of 6 are exempt.
Skiing in Italy in 2022:
Update 27/1/22: Ski resorts in Italy are open, and welcoming British tourists. Italy has one of the highest vaccination rates in Western Europe, and while some restrictions apply, it's all pretty straightforward.
Best website for live information: Keep an eye on the Italian tourist board's COVID information page for the latest changes to rules and regulations for entry (scroll down for the section on ski resorts).
Green pass / vaccination certificate rules: Italy has a "super green pass" system, similar to Austria’s "2-G-rule", which means that for adults, showing proof of a recent negative test will no longer be enough to ride ski lifts, travel on trains, eat in indoor settings, or drink in bars. A valid super green pass will also be required to buy lift tickets.
As of February 1st, you will need to have had your most recent dose within the last 180 days (ie. 6 months) for a super green pass to be valid. Previously, it was 270 days (9 months).
Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: Children under the age of 12 are exempt from green pass / vaccination certificate rules in ski resorts, as long as they’re travelling with parents who are double vaxxed (school groups don’t count, unfortunately). For teenagers, things are a little more complicated. Unless they can show proof of recent recovery from Covid, teens will have to take a test every 48 hours (if it’s an antigen) or 72 hours (if it’s a PCR) to get a green pass. This will allow them to buy a lift ticket (including a week-long one) but it’s unclear yet whether they’ll be allowed in restaurants in resort.
Masks: FFP-2 masks are mandatory on all public transport, and in enclosed ski lifts. They're required to enter shops and restaurants too, if you’re over 12.
Skiing in Switzerland in 2022:
Update 27/1/22: Switzerland's ski resorts are open to UK skiers, with similar rules in place as other European ski destinations.
Best website for live information: The Swiss tourist board's site on Covid Travel Requirements and rules around masks / green passes is great. It's also worth keeping an eye on the Swiss government's entry requirements page, and their Travel Check page to see which ones apply to you.
Green pass / vaccination certificate rules: Switzerland is restricting entry to restaurants, hotels and museums to those with a Swiss Covid Certificate. Your NHS Vaccination Certificate (or equivalent from another European country) counts.
To enter the country, all travellers must fill out a "SwissPLF" entry form. If you're fully vaccinated or recovered, you do not need to show negative test result. Travellers who are unvaccinated/not recovered must show negative test result (PCR not older than 72 hours or rapid antigen test not older than 24 hours), and test on the 4th to 7th day after entry (PCR not older than 72 hours/rapid antigen test not older than 24 hours).
This makes Switzerland one of the few places where unvaccinated people could enjoy a ski holiday this winter - if they're allowed in. Different resorts may have varying restrictions, but there's no national mandate for vaccination certificates to be required on ski lifts.
Once in the country, the "2-G / pass sanitaire" rules apply to lifts, bars and restaurants. Late night venues, such as nightclubs, also require proof of "2G+" status. This means your most recent vaccine dose must have been administered in the last 120 days (4 months) or you must be double jabbed and have a recent negative test result.
Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: The Swiss are exempting everyone up until the age of 16 are from green pass / vaccination certificate rules. 16 to 18 year olds who are single vaxxed or unvaxxed will be required to take regular tests to get a Swiss Covid Certificate. This will allow them to ride lifts, eat in restaurants etc.
Masks: Masks are mandatory on ski lifts, and in shops.
Skiing in Andorra in 2022:
Update 27/1/22: Andorra's main ski areas are open, and are welcoming guests from across Europe. The Principality was actually one of the few places Brits were allowed to go skiing last season, but the problem was they weren't (for the most part) allowed to fly into France or Spain, the two countries with the closest airports.
Best website for live information: Keep an eye on Andorra Resorts' Covid-19 page for the latest.
Green pass / vaccination certificate rules: Andorra requires that everyone over the age of 12 who enters the Principality shows proof of either a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a Covid Vaccination Certificate (NHS ones will work) or proof of recovery from infection within the last 6 months. In resorts, one of the same three things will be required to ride lifts, or enter restaurants etc. The only difference is that people under the age of 16 are exempt, whereas for entry, it's only under-12s.
Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: Andorra makes things relatively simple for most teenagers, with anyone under the age of 16 being exempt from having to take regular tests or show a Covid Vaccination Certificate in resort. 16-18 year olds will have to test regularly in local pharmacies.
Masks: Masks are mandatory in ski lifts for anyone over the age of 6, and in indoor facilities.
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