The decision to open skiing resorts divided European countries at the start of the holiday season, as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, urged for the nationwide lockdown regulations to stay in place until at least January 10. France, Italy and Germany have refrained from opening ski resorts, in the hopes of containing the spread of the virus as was witnessed last year during the onset of the pandemic. However, not everyone is on board with Austria and Switzerland, notably, deciding to open the pistes as scheduled at the beginning of the season.
In Spain, skiing resorts enjoyed a soft opening in the first week of December, with all necessary Covid-19 precautions and safety practices in place to ensure the well being of visitors.
The Sierra Nevada resort in Andalusia is one of the winter retreats currently open to visitors looking to get back to the slopes. The most southerly ski resort on the continent, Sierra Nevada, has been a long time favourite destination for Europeans that want to combine the mild weather of Spain’s cities, cultural landmarks and exquisite cuisine, with a skiing holiday.
In its opening weekend, Sierra Nevada resort welcomed 6,000 eager skiers and snowboarders, much fewer than it’s usual capacity. Lift passes are only available online which may change in the future. Visitors are encouraged to make use of the “Traffic” data on the official website, that predicts the overall capacity of people on the mountain.
The official website of Sierra Nevada, informing visitors for all recent developments has announced new measures to ensure social distancing between skiers and all those present on the mountain. Online ski passes and contactless payment systems for all services (including parking) are in place to ensure the safety of all visitors and allow for easier access and prevent long queues.
Wearing a mask is still mandatory for everyone over 6 years of age in all enclosed spaces including restaurants, hotels, shops and waiting areas, as well as ski-lifts. The resort is also operating at reduced capacity with limitations on the number of people in enclosed lifts like gondolas. Restaurants and ski equipment rental facilities have remained open but with a reduced capacity of visitors allowed.
All visitors travelling to Spain will need to fill out and sign the Health Control Form, that can be accessed on the official website, here. Visitors from high-risk countries or zones may also be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test. Spain has also announced additional safety measures, like the restriction of UK nationals from entering the country until 19 January 2021, except for Spanish nationals and legal residents.
Travel restrictions and Covid-19 measures eased for the period between 18 December and 10 January 2021 to allow for movement between the provinces of Andalucia. It is uncertain, how these will be modified in the coming days and how people travelling from different areas of Spain will be able to access the mountain slopes, if at all. Authorities are still encouraging individuals to reduce any unnecessary travel and those visiting from overseas will need to reach out to their embassy for specific clarification regarding travel in the area.
In the Pyrenees, the ski resorts of Vallter, La Molina and Baqueira Beret in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region have also opened.
The information on this article can change at any moment. Countries may close borders or alter quarantine rules with no warning. Be prepared and check with your travel agent and official government websites of your chosen destination regarding testing and travel restrictions.