A little bit of normality for Czech winter sports enthusiasts: The ski resorts started the new season on the weekend. With the help of artificial snow, the first slopes could be prepared in many resorts. Extensive protection and hygiene measures are in place, including mandatory masks and minimum distances. Restaurants and hotels are still closed. Skiing is also reserved exclusively for local day visitors. Entry for tourists from abroad is currently not permitted.
Another partial lockdown but ski resorts not affected
The Czech Republic was one of the most affected countries in Europe in the second Corona wave. A state of emergency was declared as early as the beginning of October. For weeks, the country was in a strict lockdown. It was not until the beginning of December that stores were allowed to reopen. Since December 18, ski resorts have also been given the green light for lift operations. However, this decision was not without controversy in the Czech Republic either, as the infection figures have been rising again since the end of the lockdown.
In the meantime, the government has also tightened its Corona course to a partial lockdown again in view of the upcoming Christmas: The school holidays have started two days earlier, a new curfew has come into effect between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and restaurants have to close again. Retail stores, however, are allowed to stay open with limited customers. Outdoor sports venues like ski resorts are also exempt from closure this time. In exchange, skiers will have to prepare for a variety of restrictions. A similar decision was recently made in Austria, where the country will return to a hard lockdown after Christmas, but ski resorts will be allowed to open.
Corona rules in the ski resorts
Czech ski resorts have also developed extensive hygiene concepts for lift operations. Guidance systems at the lifts should ensure that the minimum distance of 2 meters is maintained. In addition, masks are compulsory in queuing areas and during the lift ride. Weather protection hoods on chairlifts must remain open. The seats in the lifts will not be fully occupied. There is no ski bus service between the ski areas.
Some ski resorts have additionally invested in developing systems for online ski passes to avoid long queues at the ticket offices. The Klinovec ski resort on the border with Germany also controls the number of guests on the mountain through the sale of online tickets. Only a limited number of skiers are admitted each day. How high the occupancy rate is can be seen on the ski resort's website. Hotels but also the huts and restaurants have to remain closed for the time being due to the new restrictions. However, some mountain restaurants are offering snacks to go that can be purchased at the window.
The ski tickets have become more expensive almost everywhere, however, due to the higher effort and at the same time fewer visitors. Since the snow is also still missing, the range of open slopes is also still very manageable. But especially larger ski resorts such as Spindleruv Mlyn had already prepared for a short-term start of the season and artificially snowed the slopes so that the season can start immediately as soon as permission is granted.
No tourist trips possible
Nevertheless, the ski resorts are reserved for local guests. This is because entry from neighbouring countries has not been possible since 18 December for reasons of tourism and leisure. No matter if it is a country with high or low infection rates. Day trips are also included in this regulation and therefore not allowed.
Update 12/26: Czech Republic will return to a hard lockdown starting Sunday, December 27. The ski resorts are also affected by the strict measures. The ski lifts must be closed again until at least January 10!