Last Swiss canton opens ski resorts

Swiss ski resorts need permits from cantonal authorities to open. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Solothurn has become the last Swiss canton to open its ski resorts, despite what it says is a worrying coronavirus situation.

This content was published on January 9, 2021 - 12:57

Resorts in this north-western canton can operate as of Saturday, after its authorities granted the necessary permits. The canton had on December 21 rejected permit applications, but said on Friday that since all other cantons had opened their ski areas in the meantime, Solothurn ski lift operators would now also be able to operate.  

The canton nevertheless said that "the number of cases is still too high" and that the capacities of hospitals were still at their limit.

As one of several requirements, the canton demands that ski resort employees who are in direct contact with customers undergo a weekly coronavirus test.

The federal government announced in early December that ski areas were being allowed to open but that resorts would need permits from cantonal governments as of December 22.

“The prerequisite is that the epidemiological situation so allows, and that hospitals, contact tracing services and testing sites have sufficient capacity,” it said.

The federal government has not fixed any limits on the number of visitors allowed into resorts. But all enclosed ski transport, like gondolas and trains, is limited to two-thirds capacity, and cantons have a duty to monitor compliance.

Health Minister Alain Berset said the decision to keep Swiss resorts open was designed "above all for people living in Switzerland...not beyond that".

Switzerland's approach has led to friction with some neighbouring countries. 

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