There is talk that EU authorities could close Norwegian ski resorts. Will it happen?

Ischgl - AlpsPhoto: Halvard Alvik / NTB
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Corona fears led to closed ski resorts in several European countries. There is still a risk that Norway could be hit by an EU ban.

When the coronavirus hit Europe this spring, the ski resorts in the Alps became a contagion bomb.

Now, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both said they would keep the ski slopes closed when the ski season starts this winter.

At the same time, they are asking the EU to take action and put in place a joint closure of all ski slopes in Europe.

Does not preclude closure in Norway

If such a closure is adopted, it would ultimately also be able to include Norway through the EEA.

“It depends on whether the decision will be relevant to EEA law, and whether it is adopted in a legally binding form, or only as a recommendation,” Maria Jahrmann Bjerke (H), State Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Care Services, explained.

So far, Norway has no plan to close ski resorts. 

Instead, the health authorities have collaborated with the industry to put in place good infection control routines at the ski resorts.

“At the same time, we must be prepared for the fact that the infection situation may require the implementation of further measures, including closure,” Bjerke said.

“The authorities are following the infection situation closely and continuously assess the infection control measures,” she added.

Sees minimal risk of infection

Assistant director Espen Nakstad at the Norwegian Directorate of Health sees no great danger on the ski slopes as long as people follow the anti-infection rules.

“In Norway, most people travel in their own car when they go to alpine slopes, either from their home or their cabin. 

“In such cases, the risk of infection is minimal, as long as the purpose of the trip is skiing activity and not gatherings indoors with people you don’t live with,” Nakstad said in a written statement to news bureau NTB.

Internal routines

Camilla Sylling Clausen, the secretary-general of the trade association Alpinanleggene, says that the industry players have collaborated with both the National Institute of Public Health (FHI) and authorities in Trysil and Hemsedal to develop good regulations.

Together, they have put in place a set of rules that, among other things, will ensure that people keep a good distance in the ski lift queue and the ski lift.

“This means that we can comply with the distance requirement that applies elsewhere in society. Then you should be able to ski safely,” Clausen told NTB.

Disagreement in the EU

There is now a full storm about the proposals from Conte and Merkel in European politics, and Austria has strongly opposed the closure of the ski slopes.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, also plans to keep the ski slopes open.

In France, ski lifts and restaurants are closed, but beyond that, ski tourism is allowed.

On Thursday, Merkel admitted that it would be difficult to reach an agreement on closed ski slopes on the entire continent.

“We will try to get a vote in Europe on closing all ski resorts,” Merkel said, according to the news agency DPA.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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