SWISS REMOVE QUARANTINE. LIFTS OPEN. WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING?
SWISS SUDDENLY REMOVE QUARANTINE
AND LIFTS OPENING IN VERBIER.
Yesterday was a big news day in Switzerland.
Not only did the Federal Government announce a series of new measures to fight Covid cases, they also completely tore up their quarantine rules.
We had expected change, but this was a seismic shift.
Meanwhile as soon as it was clear the Federal announcement wouldn’t impact ski resorts, Verbier announced we were open for skiing this Friday.
Oh and rapid Covid tests are being rolled out at doctors and pharmacies from November 2nd.
It was a lot to digest.
And we are still catching our breath…
So why did they do this?
Well, the simple fact is as European rates are all rising there is no need to quarantine as one nation ends up being as safe (or dangerous) as the next.
So the old Swiss quarantine rate of 60 cases per 100,000 was passed by pretty much everyone weeks ago – including the Swiss.
Which is why the new system, called “Switzerland plus 60”, just means that there is no quarantine for any nation that has a Covid infection rate that is no more than the Swiss rate plus 60.
Right now that means only Belgium, the Czech Republic, Andorra and Albania are on the list.
NEW COVID RULES
The Federal Government has, essentially, made standard a lot of rules that were already in place in many Cantons.
- Social gatherings over ten people are banned
- No more than 50 people at an event
- Nightclubs closed
- Bars closing at 11pm nationally
- No more than 4 people at a table in bars and restaurants
- Masks for secondary school pupils, in indoor working spaces, entrances to shops and public spaces where it’s not possible to keep your distance
None of this is that shocking and really just a standardisation of rules across the country. So the Swiss can do what they did so well back in the spring – reduce cases and reduce pressure on the health service.
From November 2nd rapid tests will be accessible in your local doctor’s surgery and in some pharmacies.
So you can get tested if you have symptoms or if you have been a close contact of anyone testing positive.
We have all heard how rapid testing is essential to catch cases early and stop the spread.
This can only be a good thing.
LIFTS OPEN IN VERBIER
To add to all these changes, Téléverbier announced what we had expected for a while – lifts opening early as there is so much snow up there.
To give you an idea we normally open the first weekend in November at the absolute earliest, often not until the end of the month.
So this is really really early.
It means that from tomorrow morning you can get your boots on and take your skis up to Lac des Vaux – wearing a mask until you’re outside again.
In a crazy world the thought of getting up onto the hill again and into the fresh air seems pretty tempting…
CASES RISING – BUT STEPS IN PLACE
Europe is experiencing a second wave of this terrible pandemic, and that includes Switzerland. Cases initially spiked here in big cities but since September there has been a rise everywhere.
In Valais there have been a big increases, especially in the cities like Sion where urban living amplifies the transfer of the virus. But in the summer we were amongst the lowest rates for Covid.
Perhaps because Valais rates were so low for so long everyone felt it was just a problem in big cities like Zurich. And that allowed the virus back in.
But we shouldn’t forget the full lockdown was so successful in the spring that the Swiss were amongst the very first to open up again – and we have every confidence that a balance of sensible measures mixed with the natural pragmatic and rule-following nature of the Swiss will see the cases fall again.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR COURSES?
Well, it means that joining a course in Switzerland is easier than pretty much any course anywhere else in Europe.
We aren’t blind to the fact that Covid is rising, and our safety procedures need to be more thorough than ever.
So we already have plans in place to keep trainees as safe as possible whilst making sure this season’s trainees have amazing memories – just like any other season.
But we are confident we will have a great winter and we are looking forward to getting the next team of Peak Leaders Trainees up on the mountain and starting skiing again.
After all, the best way to stay safe is to wear gloves, goggles a Goretex suit and keep some social distance.
Sounds like a great day on the hill to me…