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SKIING

UPDATED: What are the Covid rules on Swiss ski slopes this winter?

After a longer than expected wait, the Covid rules for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports have been released. Here’s what you need to know.

A skier pulling off a funky trick in the Swiss ski field of Laax.
What are the rules for skiing in Switzerland this winter? Photo by Jörg Angeli on Unsplash

The Swiss government agreed with ski resorts on Tuesday afternoon that the Covid certificate will not be required to hit the ski slopes this winter.

The agreement came after a long debate about which protective measures should be introduced in the coming season, Swiss news outlet Blick reported on Tuesday.  

The main question was whether the Covid certificate would be required in chairlifts or on the slopes in general, as it is in Switzerland’s neighbours. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the Covid certificate – which shows if someone has been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative for the virus – will not be required to hit the slopes in Switzerland. 

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

The Covid certificate will not be required to ski or snowboard – nor will it be required to take chairlifts. 

It will however be required in indoor areas bars and restaurants in the ski area, although people eating and drinking on terraces and balconies will not need a valid certificate. 

Masks will be required in chairlifts and on mountain railways and cable cars.

This therefore means the rules in these areas reflect those in public transport. 

As noted above, outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will not require the Covid certificate. 

Similarly, bars and restaurants at airports will not require the Covid certificate (whether indoor or outdoor). 

One area which the government has clarified is in relation to hotel stays. While bars and restaurants of hotels will need to ask for Covid certificates, staying overnight will not require a Covid certificate. 

I am worried about Covid – especially if the certificate is not required. Is there anywhere I might feel a little safer? 

Ski areas in Switzerland are not required to ask for the Covid certificate, but they are however free to put in place a Covid certificate requirement if they deem it appropriate. 

Some, such as the Fideriser Heuberge ski resort in Graubünden, have indicated that they will require a Covid certificate for skiing or taking chairlifts. 

Also, most of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries require a Covid certificate or equivalent to hit the slopes. 

Will these rules be in place throughout the winter?

The government said on Tuesday that it was confident the upcoming season would be safe despite not requiring the Covid certificate. 

Swiss news outlet Watson reported on Wednesday that authorities were reluctant to place further restriction on winter sports activities after the industry suffered a 24 percent drop in revenue last year.

Federal Office of Public Health spokesperson Patrick Mathys said however that safety was the priority and that the government rather than ski resorts would be making the ultimate call. 

When making the announcement, the government was careful to reiterate that it had the final word on whether to change, i.e. tighten, the rules on the ski slopes. 

Rudolf Hauri, President of the Association of Cantonal Doctors, indicated he was uncertain about whether the decision to not require Covid certificates was the right one – and suggested it would be subject to review

“As of now, I can’t tell you whether it’s the right way. That remains to be seen, I think the last word has not yet been said in this case.”

At the same press conference, government spokespeople said more needed to be done to boost the country’s flagging vaccination rate. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain

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