The majority of Italy’s largest ski resorts have closed and will not reopen this season as the Italian government introduces strict measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

The president of the Aosta Valley region announced on Sunday that as of March 9 all ski areas in the region will be shut until further notice – an “extraordinary” measure to combat and limit the spread of the virus. 

“Following the current health situation and a comparison with the other Alpine realities, the next closure of the ski lifts has been agreed,” read a statement.

The closures include the resorts of Cervinia (which links to Zermatt in Switzerland), La Thuile (which links to La Rosiére in France), Pila, Courmayeur and Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna in the Monte Rosa. All these resorts are among the most popular Italian destinations for British skiers and snowboarders.

Following the announcement, officials from the Dolomiti Superski, a combined ski area lift pass that covers 12 different resorts in the the Trentino-Süd Tirol and Veneto regions of the country, said it will close for the season early, from tomorrow (March 10). The area covers resorts such as Alta Badia, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Val Gardena, Val di Fassa and Arabba.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, the resort to host the Winter Olympics in 2026, is set to close its ski area

Credit:
cortina marketing

Further measures, brought into place by Italian authorities on March 8, include travel restrictions and isolation of an increased number of regions and towns in northern Italy – forcing 16 million people into quarantine until April 3.

People will only be able to leave the quarantine zone for emergencies, and face up to three months in jail for breaking the quarantine rules. 

Following the lockdown, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all but essential travel to the affected areas, including the entire Lombardy region, which covers the resorts of Bormio and Livigno. The resort of Passo Tonale which links Lombardy with Trentino is also affected.

The number of people to have died from coronavirus in Italy is now 366, with 7,375 confirmed cases. Italy has the third-highest number of cases globally after China (80,738) and South Korea (7,382). 

There are currently 4,189 cases of the virus reported in Lombardy, where there has been 267 deaths, making it the worst hit part of the country.

There are currently nine active cases of the virus in the Aosta Valley, but its proximity to the Piedmont region in the north west of the country, where 360 people have been infected, has led officials to make the decision to end its ski season early. 

The Trentino-Süd Tirol region in the north east currently has 23 cases, while neighbouring Veneto has 670 cases and has seen 18 people die from the virus.

Cervinia shares its slopes with Zermatt in Switzerland

Tour operators, that have been forced to cancel holidays, are now working to get customers home and provide alternative holiday options or refunds for those who were due to travel.

British nationals are allowed to return to the UK. Those who do return from northern Italy are advised to self-isolate on arrival back in the UK.

How does this impact my ski holiday?

All upcoming ski holidays, with British ski tour operators, to the Aosta Valley and areas covered by the quarantine, have been cancelled. With news of the early closure of the Dolomiti Superski ski area just breaking, operators are yet to confirm their course of action for resorts covered by the pass, but it is expected to be similar.

Inghams, which runs ski holidays to Champoluc, Gressoney, Cervinia and Courmayeur in Aosta Valley and Livigno in Lombardy, is advising guests who are currently out in resorts to get in touch with their Inghams representatives as they work to arrange travel back to the UK.

“This is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, and we understand that it may be unsettling,” read a statement on its website.

“If you are due to travel to these resorts in the next few weeks we will contact you in due course with further information regarding your holiday. We will contact those due to depart soonest first and we kindly ask for your patience and to only contact us if urgent. If you have booked via a travel agent, they will be your point of contact.”

The advice is the same for customers of other brands in the Hotel Plan group, including Ski Total and family specialists Esprit Ski.

Crystal Ski Holidays, which operators in Courmayeur, Pila, La Thuile, Cervinia, and Gressoney in Aosta Valley as well as Passo Tonale, is offering customers who still want to go skiing the chance to book another another holiday to an alternative destination, either on the same departure date or a different one, with a discount of £50 per person available – any difference in price will have to be paid or will be refunded by the company. Alternatively customers who do not wish to travel can apply for a full refund.

As well as large operators, the news has impacted a number of smaller companies that run ski holidays in the Italian Alps. Ski2 is a specialist based in Champoluc in the Aosta Valley. 

“After 20 years in Champoluc building our business in Champoluc, we have faced a few big challenges, but Simon and I never dreamed that we would be in a position where our operation would close a month before the end of the winter,” read a statement on the company’s website from its founders.

Ski2 is offering customers the chance to postpone their holiday until March or April 2021, or are advising customers to contact their travel insurer if they wish to make a claim for a refund.

INTERSKI is a specialist operator in the Aosta Valley; a statement on its website read: “Whereas borders remain open, and in the absence of a definitive recommendation to avoid travel to the area by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), we have nevertheless taken the pre-emptive decision to suspend INTERSKI resort activities for the remainder of the current season, believing this to be the course of action best suited to the needs of our clients and to bring an end to current uncertainty and speculation.”

“Today is a bad day in our nearly forty years of taking clients to the Aosta Valley, but our company is both strong and resilient in the face of oppressive circumstances.”

Find out which other resorts in the Alps are affected and our full advice on whether its safe to go on your ski holiday during the coronavirus outbreak here.

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