After nearly two years of Covid-19 restrictions, the semblance of normality is a relief for ski-lift operators, restaurants, hotels and shop owners in hundreds of small towns across the Alps. most of whom lost the whole of last season to the pandemic and who attribute this year’s glimmer of hope to the European Union’s digital Covid-19 pass.
As the Omicron variant spreads across Europe, containment rules are tightening again, putting a crimp on holiday activities, from Christmas markets and concerts to ski vacations.
Italy has introduced a five-day quarantine for unvaccinated travelers, and France has closed its border to people traveling from the U.K., where the number of Omicron infections is surging.
Despite the gathering storm, skiers are starting to arrive, hotels are filling up and the locals are optimistic that the digital certificate will help the region make it through Covid-19’s second full winter relatively unscathed. The document, commonly stored as a QR code on a smartphone, attests to whether somebody has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or has tested negative.
The lifts are closed to would-be skiers in Italy and France without the certificate. Known in Italy as the green pass, it is also required to access hotels and restaurants. In Austria, which is coming off a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in November, skiers must show a version of the certificate that says they are fully vaccinated or recently recovered; a negative test isn’t enough. Bars are closed.
Ski lifts in Switzerland, the only major Alpine country that opened its slopes last winter, don’t require the certificate.
In Italy, including on the ski slopes, restrictions automatically get tighter if regional infection rates rise and hospitals fill up with Covid-19 patients. If contagion keeps rising, the green pass for skiers could soon get stricter: Only QR codes showing vaccination or recovery from an infection will suffice to grant access to the ski lifts.
If the Omicron variant Covid-19 wave gets bad enough, the slopes will close altogether.
Source: Wall Street Journal