Sasha and I are still patiently waiting at the foot of the Alps in France for the decision as to whether European Ski Resorts will be opening for the holidays. A few times a day we speak with friends who are discussing, debating and speculating as to what it going to happen this winter season. On Tuesday evening President Macron addressed the French Nation and stated that he believed it would be 'impossible for Ski Resorts to open' before the New Year. Meanwhile, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has been calling for an EU agreement to keep all Resorts closed until January. Austria is back in Lockdown and much of Italy is too.
BBC Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55081476
The Resorts that have been open so far (in Switzerland: Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Andermatt, Crans-Montana, Verbier and Engelberg) have had issues with Social Distancing at the Lift queues. It easy (and recommended) to keep your distance from others on the pistes but the complication for Resorts is when people bottle neck. This is far from ideal when you have a highly contagious virus on your hands.
Some European leaders are concerned that unless all Resorts remain closed, people who are desperate for some Mountain time will travel to where Resorts are open and bring the virus back home with them, hence the call for an agreement to keep all Resorts closed. This also avoids the disastrous situation for many businesses that would be opening up for the holidays and then having to close again if/when the cases of the virus spike. The cost, logistics and staffing is an absolute mission and having to undertake it twice in a season would mean doors permanently closing for many businesses- much worse than not opening at all in some cases.
But what does this mean for the British Seasonaires? It was published earlier this year that workers with a contract starting by the 15th of December would be able to work the duration without any need for a Visa. The new Withdrawal Agreement rules state that a UK Passport holder may stay in an EU country for up to 90 days within a 180 day period without a Visa. If Resorts open up in the New Year then this means that the 15th December deadline will be missed and suggests a Visa will be needed, however at the time of writing this there is no information on how or where a Visa might be obtained. Everyone that I've spoken to has adopted a 'wait and see' attitude as it really is out of everyone's hands until the authorities make some decisions.
French Brexit info page: https://brexit.gouv.fr/sites/brexit/accueil/vous-etes-britannique-en/conditions-d-emploi.html
This also affects the 'Earlybird' Season Pass sales as many workers have hesitated to front the cash for a pass while it is unknown whether they will be able to get out to the mountains. In addition, a few friends of mine who own apartments have had to drop their prices as the demand for Accommodation has decreased so much.
For now, we can just wait and hope that some decisions get made an information is shared quickly. It's not an enviable task that the authorities have at all but with so many livelihoods and businesses on the line, but the people need some news! The European Ski Industry generates €34 billion in Revenue which is integral to the Economies of European nations but decisions are being made on predictions and forecasts as well as comparing the results of actions by nations such as Switzerland and Sweden.
Follow the Blog and I will keep you updated with our plans as we are desperate as anyone to get a Winter Season!