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Keep up to date with the latest quarantine restrictions, rules around the Omicron variant, and where you can ski in France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Andorra in 2021-22. 

Update 03/12/2021: Ski resorts are opening across Europe, with lifts now running in France, Italy, Andorra and Switzerland, although Austria remains locked down for now. Here's the latest on the current rules and regulations, plus details of how the Omicron variant may affect skiing holidays in future. 

UK tour operators are still relatively upbeat about the prospects for the 2021 - 22 season, and 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. 

Skiing in 2021-22: A return to normality? 

After almost two years off, excitement is rising 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 has been relatively straightforward over the course of summer 2021, and countries where 'green pass' regulations apply (such as Italy, Austria and France) all recognise NHS vaccine certificates. 

While the hope is still alive (and indeed, many resorts are already open) two major events in the last few weeks have thrown potentially large spanners in the works. The first, is that rising case numbers in Austria (where vaccination rates are unusually low) have forced the government to put the whole country into lockdown. The hope is that this will be a temporary measure. The second event, whose impacts are still uncertain, is the identification of the new, potentially more transmissible variant of Covid: Omicron.

While there are some understandable confusion around changing health rules, 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 (3rd December) travellers returning from Continental Europe will have to prove that they are fully vaccinated, fill in a passenger locator form, and pay for a PCR test, to be taken on Day 2 of their return home. Only once they receive the results of that test – assuming they are negative – will they be allowed to release themselves from home quarantine. 

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.

 

Boarder in Val Thorens, France CREDIT Getty Images.jpg

Skiing in France in 2021-22:

Update 03/12/21: The highest ski resorts in France (Val Thorens, Tignes etc.) are already open and the rest are set to open in the coming weekends. Decent early-season snow fall means things are off to a good start, and in an interview with The Telegraph, the French tourism minister recently reassured concerned travellers that "closing is not an option this year". However, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, and for unvaccinated people, things get problematic. 

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), or take a PCR or Antigen test every 24 hours. For vaccinated Brits, the QR codes you get from the NHS app work as proof of your pass sanitaire. For unvaccinated people, tests can be carried out in resort pharmacies, but cost around €40 a time. From 15 January, things will 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 2021-22:

Update 03/12/21: Austria is currently in lockdown, with all ski lifts closed. The hope is that the lockdown restrictions will be lifted on December 13th, and lifts will be allowed to re-open, but nothing has been announced yet. Currently, no-one is allowed to travel to Austria for tourist purposes. 

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, enter indoor dining spaces, and drink in après bars. 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. 

Vaccine certificates will only be considered valid for 270 days (9 months) after the second dose. After that, proof of a booster dose will be required. 

Green pass rules for kids and teenagers: Children under the age of 12 are exempt from green pass / vaccination certificate rules. Unfortunately, teenagers are not. Because British teens aren't eligible (yet) for a second dose of the vaccine, there's basically no way of having a skiing holiday in Austria this winter with teenaged children. 

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 2021-22:

Update 03/12/21: Ski resorts in Italy are already open, and with a decent amount of early-season snow around, locals are getting excited. No-one's quite sure what the impacts of omicron might be yet, but Italy has one of the highest vaccination rates in Western Europe, and current case numbers are far below what they are in Austria and Germany, for example. Although no-one's taking anything for granted, locals think it's unlikely the Italian government will impose new lockdowns or shut lifts. 

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 is about to launch what it calls the “super green pass”. Essentially, this is like 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.

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.

However restrictive, these rules as they stand still make Italy probably the easiest major ski destination to take teenagers to on holiday this winter. 

Masks: 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. If you’re visiting the Süd-Tirol / Alto Adige, region, you’ll have to wear an FFP-2 mask, of the kind mandated in Austria, too.

 

 

A snowy day in the Swiss Alps CREDIT Getty Images.jpg

Skiing in Switzerland in 2021-22:

Update 03/12/21: Switzerland's ski resorts are beginning to open at the start of the winter season, but the Swiss government reacted to the announcement of omicron as a "variant of concern" by slapping a 10-day quarantine requirement on arrivals from many countries, including the UK. Thankfully this has since been lifted for travellers from certain countries including the UK, but testing requirements have been tightened. You'll now need 2 negative tests results, the first on entry to Switzerland and the second after 4 to max. 7 days after entry.

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. Alternatively, you can take regular tests at local pharmacies. 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. 

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 2021-22:

Update 03/12/21: Andorra's two main ski areas opened today, 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. This season, Andorra looks set to keep things open. 

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.