Coronavirus: What we know about plans to open Spain’s ski resorts

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Spain’s ski resorts from the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada are determined to open – with Covid-19restrictions in place – as soon as regional border restrictions are lifted… and there’s enough snow.

Spain’s Association of Ski Resorts (ATUDEM) presented plans last week for the winter season insisting that ski tourism lends itself well to coronavirus restrictions at least in terms of social distancing.

They point out the obvious facts; that the sport is carried out in the open air meeting the “well ventilated” criteria that is supposed to limit the risk of contagion. Plus, the length of skies when worn naturally keeps skiers apart the 1.5 metres social distancing recommended by health authorities.

The report on how to keep resorts safe recognised potential hotspots at ski equipment hire shops, restaurants and on the lifts but suggested that the risks could be easily mitigated.

They outlined plans that include extra cleaning at installations and adding hand sanitizer dispensers, a ban on smoking in busy places in resorts and limiting numbers in restaurants to ensure social distancing.

But the big problem facing resorts and delaying the opening of many is that with perimeter restrictions in place around many of Spain’s regions including Aragon, Catalonia, Andalusia and Asturias where most of the nation’s pistes can be found, the biggest challenge is attracting enough people to the resorts when movement is limited.

As a result some resorts are delaying opening until restrictions are lifted.

The Catalan Pyrenees resorts would usually be open by now but have delayed as Catalonia has a perimetral confinement on the region which is compounded by restrictions that mean between Friday at 6 am to Monday at 6 am, people are not allowed to leave the town or city they reside in.

Baquira Beret, one of Spain’s most upmarket resorts and a favourite of Spain’s royal family is set to open on December 11th but may only be able to welcome local skiers because of the restrictions on movement.

Other resorts in Catalonia have suggested that they will wait until December 21st when restrictions on movement are set to be lifted.

Aramon, the company that runs Pyrenean resorts in Formigal, Panticosa, Cerler and Valdeinares and Javalambre in Teruel have placed staff on ERTE – Spain’s furlough scheme – delaying the opening of their resorts until the situation is clearer (and there is snow!).

Candachu and Astun, also in the Pyrenees haven’t set a date for opening yet and have also placed staff on ERTE.

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