The ski season in parts of the country was supposed to start today, February 15, 2021. But on Sunday evening - just a few hours before the lifts were scheduled to open - the Italian government in Rome pulled the ripcord again and extended the existing winter sports ban. The ski resorts in Italy will therefore remain closed until at least the beginning of March.
Fear of virus mutations
Back in January, the opening of the ski resorts in Italy was cancelled again just a few days before the planned start (we reported). Now history is repeating itself. Just one day before the start of the season in many ski regions, the Italian government is once again putting a hold on the opening of the ski resorts. Minister of Health Speranza is extending the existing winter sports ban for recreational skiers until March 5.
Virologists had previously warned against opening the ski resorts. The reason for this is the increasing number of infections in Italy. The incidence value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days was recently at 130. For comparison: in Germany, the value is currently at 59. However, the increased risk due to the new virus mutations is also causing concern. Especially the British mutation is already widespread in Italy.
Season start in March at the earliest
Depending on the level of infection, regions in Italy are classified into different risk zones: white, yellow, orange and red. The ski resorts in the orange zones, such as Trentino and Liguria, would not have been allowed to open anyway according to the country's current Corona regulations. In South Tyrol (also orange), skiing is possible from the beginning of March at the earliest anyway due to the new lockdown (we reported).
However, the regions in the yellow classified zones had firmly expected the ski areas to open this week. Only 10 days ago, the government had confirmed the permission to open in yellow zones from February 15. In Lombardy, where Livigno is located among others, the lifts were supposed to start right on Monday. In Veneto and in the Aosta Valley, the opening was then planned in the course of the week. Now the winter sports ban will continue to apply in the yellow zones, too. A start of the season in Italy is therefore possible on March 6th at the earliest.
Frustration in the ski regions
The anger about the renewed, last-minute cancellation is great. The ski resorts had invested a lot in new safety and hygiene concepts in recent months. "We have spent huge sums to adapt to the safety precautions and yet we can't start now," said Beppe Bonseri, spokesman for the ski resort operators of Santa Caterina Vafurva in Lombardy. The president of the Uncem association of mountain communities also expressed his disillusionment: "The season is over for many operators." Alberto Cirio, president of the Piedmont region, already announced he would take legal action against the decision
The ongoing Alpine World Ski Championships 2021 in Cortina d'Ampezzo are not affected by the winter sports ban. The races will take place as planned until Sunday, February 21.
>> World Ski Championships in Cortina: Program, starting lists and results
>> To the medal table
Tightening of the rules of entry
Since Sunday, 14 February, Italy has also imposed stricter rules for entry from Austria. Anyone who has stayed in Austria for more than 12 hours must be quarantined for 14 days after entering Italy. Even a negative test on entry does not exempt from the quarantine obligation. After entry, a second test is required within 48 hours, as well as another test at the end of the quarantine period. Individual groups of people, such as commuters, are exempt from this rule.
The tightening of the regulations is Italy's response to the spread of the South African virus mutation in Austria. Germany also tightened entry restrictions for Tyrol over the weekend.
For the other EU countries, the requirement of a negative PCR or antigen test, which must not be older than 48 hours, continues to apply for entry into Italy. With a negative test and an entry declaration, entry is possible. However, there are restrictions for travel within Italy.
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