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SKIING

Italy’s ski season begins with Covid green pass rules in place

Italy’s ski slopes have begun reopening with hopes that Covid-19 passes and other health measures will be enough to prevent closures this year.

Ski lifts in Italy require a health pass.
Ski lifts in Italy require a health pass this year. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Some of Italy’s biggest ski resorts opened for the new season on Wednesday, with Covid-19 green passes required when using ski lifts, social distancing measures in place at entrances and online booking required in some areas.

While Italy’s government did not specify that the green pass would be required on slopes or to take ski lifts this winter, this is one of the rules agreed in a protocol signed last month by Italy’s winter sports federation, association of chairlift operators and association of ski instructors.

The green pass requirement applies to everyone aged over 12 when accessing lifts, capacity is reduced to 80 percent for closed cable cars (open chairlifts can operate at full capacity), and masks are a requirement in all “common areas”, the protocol states.

EXPLAINED: What are the Covid rules on Italian ski slopes this winter?

Italy’s Covid health certificate demonstrates that the holder has either been vaccinated, has recovered from the virus recently or has tested negative.

In the popular ski resort of Cervinia, on the Swiss border, local police and staff were checking green passes and identity documents and no crowds or problems were reported as the lifts opened for the start of the season on Wednesday morning, according to the AGI news agency.

Cervinia has also made it compulsory to buy ski passes online, though this is only a recommendation under the protocol.

At the moment in Cervinia it is only possible to ski on the Plateau Rosa and on the Swiss side, while slopes on the Italian side are still being prepared.

The Swiss government agreed with resorts on Tuesday that that health certificates will not be required on the country’s slopes or to take chairlifts.

In France, the health minister has said he is considering whether to make the health pass compulsory for using ski lifts.

Under rules set by the Italian government, the pass is a requirement for all customers aged over 12 at indoor bars and restaurants. Though not a requirement to enter hotels or accommodation, the pass is needed when accessing hotel restaurants and facilities such as spas.

In addition to the health pass requirement, the standard Italian health rules on masks and distancing will also be in place at all businesses.

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SKIING

Austria avalanche kills three

An avalanche in the Salzburg region killed three people and injured two while they were skiing off-piste, Austria's Red Cross said Saturday.

Snow and avalanche protection fences seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria
Some mountains in Austria have snow and avalanche protection fences, like these seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria. ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

The accident happened Saturday about 2,400 metres (7,800 feet) up in the Lungau district, soon after 1:45 pm local time, Red Cross spokesman Anton Schilcher told the APA agency.

The snow buried eight of the group up to 4.5 metres deep, local emergency response official Christoph Wiedl told local media.

Two of the victims were already dead when their bodies were recovered, while the third died after being airlifted to hospital in Klagenfurt.

The two injured skiers were taken to hospital in the town of Tamsweg.

The skiers caught in the avalanche were from a group from the regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria.

In recent years, an average of around 20 people a year have been killed annually by avalanches in Austria.

The last two seasons were less deadly as the coronavirus pandemic reduced the number of skiers overall.

Avalanches killed four people in western Austria’s Tyrol region last February.

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