HOW TO SAFELY (RE) OPEN A SKI RESORT IN TIMES OF THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS
The skiing industry was one of the first sectors to feel the impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. As much was still unknown back in march about the new virus, governments forced their ski resorts to shut down for the rest of the winter. A further spread of this new virus was to be stopped at all costs. Many stood behind this decision back then, “together we overcome this virus” was a message widely spread across all nations affected. People would gladly sacrifice some of their freedoms if it was to protect the greater good.
Now, almost a year later, we know much more about the virus. We no longer have to “take 100% of the decisions with 50% of the knowledge” as our Dutch prime minister said back in spring. So how exactly do we make sure ski resorts can (stay) open this season? Let’s explore the possibilities.
Firstly, let’s state how a respiratory virus like COVID-19 spreads. Comparable with cigarette smoke, small virus particles tend to hang around in the air for some (long) time. These virus particles are called “aerosols”. The spread of COVID-19 via surfaces is very unlikely to happen. Indoors, cigarette smoke can be smelled hours or even days after the smoke got there. Outdoors, the smell is often gone within seconds due to the airflow. The same goes for aerosols in a badly ventilated room. A lot of people can get infected even if there is only one sick person in the room. Combine these two and that explains why there was such a surge in infections after Carnival in the Netherlands (lots of parties in small cafes), but none after the mass demonstrations back in June.
Let’s hope to see pictures like this one very soon!
Considering that skiing and snowboarding take mainly place in the outdoors, it should be a viable option to open up the resorts as we’re used to. Of course, a ski resort does not only consist of outdoor skiing. Après-ski, other gastronomy, cablecars and supermarkets are all places where tourists meet. Therefore some measures should be taken to ensure a safe & fun vacation for everyone.
For everything outdoors, no restrictions are needed. The downsides do not outweigh the upsides. That means and chairlift capacity and queues as we’re used to, no mandated masks and outdoor après ski as usual. Indoors, however, is a different story. For restaurants, good ventilation is necessary. This can either be installed or by simply opening up some windows. There should be no restrictions on outdoor dining and a mask should not be mandated whenever you’re walking through the restaurant. This will only increase the risk of getting infected because of improper use by i.e.. constantly putting it on/off.
Then, indoor après-ski… We all know the horror stories of Ischgl that reached us back in March / April. Lots of tourists got unknowingly infected by visiting various après ski bars. Bad ventilation and people standing clumped together for long periods of time are two of the biggest problems that arise in these facilities As the problems that arise are not easily solved, they should switch up their indoors for dining and relaxing and their outdoors for the après-ski part we all know and love. That means no indoor aprés-ski this season.
Lastly, travel restrictions. Should skiing tourists be required to bring proof with them of a negative covid-19 test or in a later stadium proof of vaccination? In my opinion, such requirements constitute a violation of physical integrity and should therefore never be required.
In conclusion, we do live in weird times that sometimes require weird measures. But with these measures, every ski resort and tourist could and should have a fairly normal, enjoyable winter.
- Maurice de Hond, Verspreidingswijzen, Virus-overdracht, ernst ziekte en preventie: conclusies en adviezen, August 2020
- RIVM, Ontwikkeling COVID-19 in grafieken, March 2020
- Washingtonian, Two Weeks Later and Counting, There’s Still No Covid Surge in the DC Area After Protests, June 2020
- John C. A. Manley, Medical Doctor Warns that “Bacterial Pneumonias Are on the Rise” from Mask Wearing, October 2020
- Bethany Bell, Coronavirus: Ischgl resort at heart of Europe’s outbreak reopens, April 2020
- European Convention on Human Rights