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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

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The Swiss pilots’ union could go on strike during Switzerland’s busy autumn holiday period.

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The union, Aeropers, which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with Switzerland’s national airline, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement (CLA) and is threatening to go on strike.

The  (CLA) is a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE : What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

The pilots said they would cease flying on October 17th, which falls in the middle of school holidays in a number of cantons — the period when many families holiday abroad.

“SWISS has not sufficiently entered into the matter of the legitimate interests of its pilots”, Aeropers said, adding that if the airline doesn’t come up with a better offer, the union “will initiate the procedures for a strike”.

For its part, SWISS said in a press release that it offered its pilots 60 million francs more than on the previous CLA, but “Aeropers executive committee has rejected this latest offer as inadequate, and has made demands of its own totalling over 200 million”.

However, Aeropers head Thomas Steffen has denied SWISS’ claim saying the 200-million figure is “a fantasy number” that has no basis whatsoever. According to Steffen, the pilots’ demand was “significantly less than half of this sum”.

He went on to accuse the airline of “propaganda” at the detriment of its employees”.

He added that the strike would me a last-resort measure if the dispute on pay, which has been going on for a year, is not resolved within a month.

“We’ve negotiated for a year and made sure that our members are level-headed and fly safely and reliably, despite being without a contract,” Steffen said.

If the SWISS cockpit staff, which also includes its sister airline, Edelweiss, does go on strike, it will be the latest labour dispute in Europe’s aviation, which includes a strike by Lufthansa ground crew, which impacted Switzerland over the summer.

However, strikes by Swiss workers is relatively uncommon compared to other countries.

READ MORE: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

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