The slopes on Germany’s highest mountain are opened recently. In a country where a second wave of coronavirus infections is surging, ski officials are responding with strict rules to avoid an outbreak at their resorts.
On Nov 13, the first skiers arrived on the slops of the Zugspitze mountain and were welcomed by a host of strict pandemic rules and restrictions.
The local ski authorities, the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, have outlined a more refined version of what some skiers may have encountered during summer skiing on the mountain’s high slopes.
Everyone – except children up to the age of six – has to wear masks when riding the ski lift - whether inside a cable car or outside on a chair lift or a so-called drag lift.
Once they hit the slopes, however, winter sports enthusiasts will be able to ski without a face mask - unless it’s cosier with the mask on.
However, they must always keep at least 1.5m distance from other skiers, which can be tricky when overtaking.
The guidelines should give a sense of ski trips on any slope during the pandemic, and most ski resorts in Europe are aiming to start operations in December with similar rules: compulsory face masks, social distancing and, if possible, cashless payment.
However experts believe the risk is not from open air skiing but moments in between when skiers head inside for warmth.
One of Europe’s earliest outbreaks of the novel coronavirus was believed to have come from the nightlife at the Isghl ski resort in Austria.
Isghl, a traditional destination for skiing and party holidays for travellers far and wide, now says it is offering a free multifunctional scarf that doubles as a "filtering facepiece (FFP)".
The resort is also limiting the number of people in chairlifts and mountain restaurants and keeping guests distanced in seating areas.
Officials on the slopes in the US ski state of Colorado meanwhile have been issuing similar guidelines, urging face mask and reconfiguring mountain restaurants for social distancing.
The first snow has already fallen on Germany’s highest mountain with a peak of just under 3,000m.
Skiers and snowboarders will be making their first descents on snow from last year: At the end of last season, the Zugspitze Railway had created snow depots which now serve as a base.
Operators in Germany say they are optimistic that the season will run as planned, despite an alarming second wave of infections across Europe in October. – dpa
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