France lockdown: Will ski resorts open in December?

Currently the answer appears to be yes, with ski stations preparing to open - although it is not yet clear if restaurants, bars or cafes will be allowed to open

17 November 2020
People at a ski resort. France lockdown: Will ski resorts open in December?Ski stations currently appear likely to open in December, although it is unclear if bars and restaurants will open too
By Connexion journalist

Reader question: Do we know at the moment if ski resorts in France will open in December?

For the moment the answer appears to be yes.

Many ski stations that would normally open in mid-December are largely still planning to do so - although you should check your specific destination before you travel.
France has around 350 ski stations, which employ around 120,000 seasonal workers per year.

In those that open, strict health precautions will be in place - such as telecabines being disinfected between passengers and physical distancing rules - and it is as yet unclear if restaurants and bars will be permitted to open.

Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to confirm whether restaurants, bars and cafes across France will be allowed to reopen in December, or whether they will remain closed until January 2021.

Read more: France: Bars and restaurants may not open before January 15

Mountain authority France Montagnes has published an infographic showing what the health rules will be in different areas of the ski station.

(Image: France Montagnes)

At the station of Carroz-d’Arâches in the Haute-Savoie, a piste worker told news source FranceInfo: “At the moment, we are working on the idea that it will open. With everything we have to do, we cannot just get ready at the last moment.”

The village by the station does 20% of its total business over the Christmas period - equivalent of €12 million - and is also planning to open as much as possible from the start of the season. Around 800 seasonal jobs could be at risk if it does not.

Jean-Paul Constant, village mayor, called on visitors to be alert. He said: “Individual responsibility is going to be extremely important.”

It is still unclear whether ski resorts will be very busy, however, especially if restaurants, bars and cafes are not allowed to open before 2021.

One hotel owner, Armelle Linglin, who owns the business with her husband, told FranceInfo that their hotel restaurant usually accounts for two thirds of their takings.

The French work minister has recommended that business owners put their workers on “chômage partiel” (partial unemployment benefit) so that they keep their jobs, but receive some pay.

France Montagnes has also provided a list of the health rules in English on its website.

They are as follows:

When skiing on pistes

  • Skiing is an outdoor activity, and the equipment (helmet, gloves, ski, goggles, face warmer) is perfectly in line with social distancing.
  • In some public spaces, capacity may be reduced. Wearing a mask is compulsory for everyone aged 11 and over in spaces where physical distancing cannot be ensured.
  • No masks are required when actually skiing.

Access to the resort by public transport

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory before boarding and while on the bus.

Ski lifts

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory while queuing.
  • Contact points are thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis.
  • No restrictions on the number of people on the ski lifts.
  • On some ski lifts, you may not have to wear a mask (check ski lift guidelines).

In equipment hire shops

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory.
  • All hired equipment is thoroughly cleaned.
  • Hand sanitising gel is made available.

In tourist offices and your accommodation

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory in all communal and enclosed spaces.
  • Hand sanitising gel is made available.
  • All surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, with increased frequency.

In bars and restaurants (if they are allowed to open)

  • Table service only.
  • Table distance a minimum of 1 metre apart, or fixed or removable panels to ensure physical distancing.
  • Guests must wear a face mask when walking around the premises.
  • Hand sanitising gel is available.
  • All surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, with increased frequency.

At ski schools

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory when gathering at the beginning and end of class, for everyone aged 11 and over.
  • No restrictions on the number of people at ski classes.

In public indoor spaces

  • Wearing a face mask is compulsory for everyone aged 11 and over.
  • Hand sanitising gel is available.
  • All surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.
  • All hired equipment is thoroughly cleaned

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