Will Macron give ski resorts a green light this season?
This Tuesday evening, 24 November, President Macron will address the nation to provide an update on the government's response to Covid-19 and the planned approach to the festive season... as well as the opening of ski resorts.
With Christmas and New Year ski trips just around the corner, this announcement comes not a moment too soon. Rumours have it that "le confinement" in France, which was due to end at the start of December, may be extended by a week or two, but that restrictions will be eased over the festive season. It's not yet clear whether this will include an easing of restrictions in ski resorts.
In a possible indication of things to come, last week the government urged ski resorts to recruit their seasonal staff as usual, which is a positive sign. However, the stations de ski were also reminded that seasonal workers would be protected by the government's furlough scheme should the resorts not be able to open for the whole season.
Preparations for opening have continued in many French resorts, including enhanced sanitation measures and new rules for the pistes and lifts including the wearing of face coverings. The way ski resorts see it is this: if it's safe to travel by metro in Paris and by tube in London, it's safe enough to travel by ski lift in the open air.
However, with ongoing uncertainty about the current national lockdown measures, in Courchevel the decision has already been taken to not open up the lifts pre-Christmas except for competitive skiing and training.
And then there's the question of whether people will be able to travel internationally to get to the resorts, without facing restrictions on entry and upon return. However, in the latest announcement from the UK government, for example, there is the promise of an easing of restrictions over the festive period. Even if you need to isolate for a week or so upon your return, it may be worth the trip for a much needed change of scene, some fresh air, and some fun, following such a tough year under near house arrest for many of us.
If resorts are allowed to open to the public this season, it remains to be seen whether there will be much of an après-ski vibe, since restaurants, bars, and clubs may not get the green light. But that doesn't mean a ski trip shouldn't be possible and enjoyable. Think private rented chalets, cosy nights in by the fire, and wholesome days out on the slopes....!
Most private chalet rentals are offering flexible cancellation policies in the event of Covid-19 disruption, so there's limited risk of making a booking now to protect your optionality, if you want to be sure of a nice place to stay. Take a look at the kind of places still available for the first week of January in Meribel Les Allues at airbnb.
So, although the jury's still out for this ski season, and it looks like early December skiing is off the cards, it's not long to wait to get more clarity, so skiers can start planning with more confidence.
We believe there is good reason for hope for skiing over Christmas and New Year and into January. We'll get more clarity on Tuesday evening and Meribel.fr will provide an update as soon as we have more insight for you.