The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday urged European countries to consider the coming ski season risks, as Switzerland continues to run lifts, and Austria is considering joining them. France, Germany, and Italy have all shut down their ski resorts until the New Year.
The WHO is advising against non-essential travel, and while skiing itself can be socially distanced, the dangers of airport crowds, restaurants, and gondolas and lift lines should all be causes for concern.
“Many people won’t be infected barrelling down the slopes on their skis. The real issues are going to come at airports, on buses, on ski lifts — pinch points in the skiing experience where people come together in large numbers. We would ask that all countries look at the ski season and other reasons for mass gatherings and look very, very carefully at the associated risks.”
– Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert
The organization stopped short of a specific recommendation on whether snow sports should be allowed this winter but advised that a “risk-based approach” should be favored to determine which activities can go ahead safely and which should be postponed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes ALL European ski resorts should be shut and is appealing for a vote among European nations to make this happen.
Recent announcements from France and Italy confirmed that their national lockdowns are to be extended, and ski resorts will not be permitted to open until well into January 2021.