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Skiing in 2022: Will I be able to go? Here's everything you need to know

The new COVID-19 rules for skiing safety this winter

While there’s nothing wrong with a bit of winter sun, some of us prefer to embrace the cold – preferably by escaping to the mountains. But after a heavily interrupted 2020/21 ski season, how are things looking for 2021/22?

SEE: Winter Holidays in the UK: 7 cosy hotels for a dreamy winter staycation

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is certainly affecting winter holidays, but there are still plenty of places where you can ski, snowboard or just soak up the après-ski atmosphere. Travellers have many more options for a ski holiday in 2021 than they did in 2020, especially if they’re looking for European or North American snow.

There’s no reason why you can’t responsibly enjoy picturesque Alpine scenes or adrenaline-pumping winter sports this year. Whether you’re hoping to hit the slopes in France or Switzerland, the US or Canada, here’s everything you need to know about skiing holidays in 2021/22.

When will skiing resorts open in 2021?

We’re seeing a high number of ski resorts open at the usual times in 2021 – a big change from last season. In Europe, glacier resorts from Austria to Norway opened in October, with most others following in November and December.

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Several ski resorts have opened since travel restrictions eased

Canada’s first two resorts to open were Alberta’s Lake Louise and Mount Norquay, both on November 5th. Colorado led the pack in the US, as usual, with Wolf Creek, Arapahoe Basin and Keystone all welcoming guests in October.

Ski resorts in Asia are also opening at the usual times, but almost exclusively for domestic visitors due to restrictions on international travel.

READ: 27 of the best luxury spa breaks in the UK

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Can I book skiing this winter?

Not only is it possible to book, but you’d be wise to do so earlier than usual, as a fair number of cancelled 2020/21 bookings were moved to this year. On top of that, many places are operating at a slightly reduced capacity.

With the stark losses which many ski areas suffered in the 2020/21 season, it’s no surprise that many of them are running promotions to entice people to their slopes. Austria’s Winter Love campaign keeps winter visitors up to date on news and regulations, making booking as simple as possible. Several tour operators, such as Inghams, are offering early-bird discounts.

Italy, like many other destinations, is limiting cable car and gondola capacity to 80% – and ski lifts if the weather hood is pulled down. Due to the limited spaces, and in order to prevent unnecessary queuing, Italian resorts are encouraging visitors to prebook their ski passes online.

What safety measures are in place for the 2021/22 ski season?

Though the exact ways they’re implemented are different in each region, the main safety measures are the same across the board:

  • Requiring guests to show negative COVID tests and/or proof of vaccination;
  • Social distancing, sometimes enabled by reducing capacity;
  • Mask wearing for staff and guests;
  • Extra cleaning and hand sanitiser stations.

In some European destinations, such as Italy and Austria, medical-grade masks (usually FFP2) are required on all public transport, including cable cars. Using the wrong type could land you with a steep fine, so double check before you go.

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Prince William and Duchess Catherine are fans of a skiing holiday 

Many destinations, from Scotland to Canada, require you to wear your mask and/or show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test before entering indoor spaces, gondolas and ski lifts. Be careful about the timing of your vaccinations; if your second one was over nine months before your trip, you’ll no longer count as fully vaccinated in Austria.

As the situation can change quite quickly, many destinations have outlined plans for different eventualities – like Austria’s five-stage winter tourism model. In other cases it’s less clear cut, so you’ll need to keep checking.

Which resorts will be the safest for skiing in 2021/22?

There’s no guarantee that any ski resort will be COVID-free, but some are being much more strict than others. As well as looking at regional guidelines, you should check each resort’s policies, to make sure you’re going somewhere which takes your safety as seriously as you do.

This is especially important in destinations like the US, where national guidelines are largely opt-in. Different resorts there have different safety measures, so while one may require all staff and guests to be vaccinated and wear masks, another may just suggest social distancing and mask wearing.

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Bring a picnic out with you to avoid the crowds

Hygiene standards are of course important here. As well as cleaning thoroughly, managing the flow of people and installing hand sanitiser stations, some resorts have stopped offering equipment rental as a safety measure. Check ahead in case you need to bring certain items.

Overall, the safest resorts are the ones with firm regulations in place, and which are in smaller, less popular places. Instead of the Alps, head for the Pyrenees; rather than glam St Moritz, consider the perfect powder of Engelberg-Titlis.

What happens if I can’t travel if I book a skiing trip this winter?

Just like any other trips, your ski holidays this year are dependent on the rules and regulations of both the UK and your destination’s government. If the global situation changes, or if you catch coronavirus or come into contact with someone who has it, you may be required to quarantine for up to two weeks. Keep an eye on foreign travel advice to stay informed.

Plenty of companies expanded their cancellation policies in 2020, but as vaccination rates increase, most are returning to less generous ones. Still, many resorts (such as Méribel) and tour operators (such as Inghams and Ski World) will rebook or refund you if changes in national restrictions prevent you from travelling.

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Mask wearing is necessary on all transport, including cable cars

You should also ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance, in case you need to cancel or delay your trip. It should cover you not only if you contract COVID-19, but also if you have to self-isolate due to coming into contact with someone who has it.

Is a chalet safer than a hotel for skiing in 2021/22?

Having a private place to stay means you can avoid communal areas like hotel lobbies, restaurants and corridors, which is certainly a safer option. As demand for this kind of accommodation has increased, so has the level of comfort on offer. Self-catering chalets now often come with fully-stocked fridges, or multiple food delivery options, to make life a little easier after a tiring day on the pistes.

How can I stay safe skiing this winter?

Common-sense measures apply wherever you are. Maintain social distancing; regularly wash your hands and carry sanitiser; wear a mask, especially indoors or in crowded areas; and get vaccinated if you can. But a few other ways to ensure you have a stress-free (and hopefully COVID-free) holiday are:

  • Opt for private skiing or snowboarding lessons, so you avoid groups of strangers;
  • Use your own equipment as much as possible, rather than hiring it;
  • Keep your après-ski activities on the milder side – sticking to one bar rather than visiting several, for instance;
  • Avoid travelling at popular times and on changeover days;
  • Choose a self-drive and self-catering holiday if possible.

Where can I go skiing without quarantine?

On October 4th 2021, the UK government simplified their travel advice so that countries were either on the red list or the “rest of the world” list. Travellers arriving from destinations in the second category just have to take a PCR test two days after arrival – no need to quarantine.

Many of the world’s major ski destinations are trying to encourage visitors now that vaccination rates are rising. France’s Tourism Minister seemed to sum up the mood in Europe, saying, “the message is very clear: this winter, we will ski!” In the majority of European countries, fully vaccinated travellers (or those who’ve recovered from COVID) can enter without self-isolating.

Luxury resort Les Arcs Panorama is the perfect family-friendly choice and has an abundance of ski class options for kids. Plus, as the name suggests, the panoramic views are pretty spectacular.

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Les Arcs Panorama, from £1,369 per person, Club Med 

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Across the pond, the US opened up to UK and EU travellers in November 2021, just in time for ski season. If you’re fully vaccinated you won’t need to quarantine – just take a COVID test within three days of your flight. Canada’s entry requirements are similar.

Some destinations are still closed, notably in Asia. China will be hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, but isn’t open for international tourism this ski season. Japan’s borders are also closed. South Korea is open, though… but only to residents of Singapore.

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