While COVID-19 vaccinations are on the rise around the world, the pandemic is still not under control. Several nations are still experiencing high rates of positive cases and death. Argentina has seen a rise in cases recently. Last Thursday, President Alberto Fernández announced Argentina’s first lockdown of 2021, potentially impacting this ski season.
Since May 10, Argentina has seen its 7-day average of new cases rise from 20,000 to over 32,000 by May 24th. During this two-week stretch, the nation reported over 35,000 new cases over three consecutive days. As a result, President Fernández ordered a lockdown to begin May 22 and ending May 31. The measures aim to limit the circulation of people while suspending social, business, educational, religious, and sporting activities.
Usually beginning in mid-June, Argentina’s ski season runs through October. The best conditions are generally between mid-July and early September. Snow has already started falling in Argentina, and ski areas have shown optimism for the season to open in June as planned.
How does this recent lockdown impact the ski season in Argentina? As of now, the lockdown duration will not affect the mid-June opening projection. If the strategy succeeds, then resorts may only lose the nine days of prep time and likely see reduced attendance early in the season. Should the situation continue to spiral out of control, the Argentinian government may extend the duration of the lockdown. An extension could prove catastrophic for ski areas, shortening their operating window and reducing the potential to earn back money lost over the past year.
Looking back at Argentina’s 2020 ski season, we see a foreshadowing of what may happen if the nation fails to get the virus under control. Their initial lockdown began in March and, through several extensions, ended early August in most regions. Five of the Argentinian ski areas opened during August but closed for the season by September 28th. An extension of lockdown in 2021 will put the entire season in jeopardy for some resorts.
Skier safety will also be affected if the Argentinian government extends the lockdown. Last year ski areas urged skiers not to hike and ski in the backcountry. With a lockdown in place, there was no avalanche prevention in the backcountry. If the same thing happens this season, skiers looking to ski off the beaten path be doing so at their own peril.
After the tough 2020 season, another season of closures would be devastating to ski areas in Argentina. Hopefully, the lockdown will be short-lived, and the South American nation can get its situation under control.