A little bit of light in this dark Corona period comes from Norway. A number of ski resorts are cautiously opening their lifts again under the 'new normal' regime. Under strict guidelines, one may attempt to run the lifts again.
Myrkdalen in western Norway is opening its lifts today, subject to the following rules:
Apartments and ski shop are (limited) open. In addition to Myrkdalen, other areas will also open, with careful consideration being given to the size of the area. Large ski areas remain closed for the rest of winter. Under the Covid-19 regulation section 14c they are not allowed to open their lifts. Large ski areas such as Hemsedal, Voss and Trysil are compared to amusement parks, so they cannot open.
Now Hemsedal, Voss and Trysil are major ski areas in Norway, but in the Alps at most a medium sized ski area. This raises interesting questions for the (near) future. If we have to believe the experts, we are only at the beginning of a long way (back) and it will take some time before a vaccine is ready. On the other hand, winter is just around the corner in 6 months. With the recent virus outbreak in the Austrian apres ski still fresh in the memory, national governments will be keen not to overrush. Especially as long as no vaccine has been found. This raises big questions, especially if medium and large ski areas will be classified as amusement parks, just like in Norway, and therefore may not be able to open. Certainly a country such as Austria, which is almost 70% dependent on foreign tourists and who has invested heavily in expanding the lift capacity in recent years, will face an enormous challenge. Suppose we don't have a vaccine and Covid-19 is still asking for restrictions on movement and social distance, can the medium and large ski areas than go open? And if so, how and for whom? Do you need to book and reserve your liftticket in advance? Can we go ski touring and split boarding again? Is traveling by bus, train or plane a (sensible) option? What is the maximum occupancy of an apartment complex, hotel, guest house or chalet? Are tourists from non-Alpine countries welcome at all? Just random questions and I suspect you have more interesting questions for us.
It is difficult to predict what the new normal in winter sports will look like for the coming season. It is hoping for a vaccine. But suppose everything could return to normal, what did we learn from Covid-19 and what do you think this should/could mean for winter sports and our love for the mountains?