Covid Update

PANDEMIC AND POST PANDEMIC PLANNING 

Below is an overall collection of findings and thoughts on the future possibility of skiing the Alps. The why, how, and maybe, when?

THE PLUSES OF THE PANDEMIC

Churchill once said, “Never waste a good crisis.” I’m not totally sure the pandemic falls in that category, but here are some positive outcomes –

  • Air worldwide was 5% cleaner due to fewer global emissions
  • That hated travel quality, over-tourism, is down or even being eliminated. Places like Venice are taking this opportunity to start controlling the number of allowed tourists for the future
  • All places are cleaner and have Corona-virus controls in place
  • The air in planes is safer than most placers on the ground
  • Lindenmeyr Travel will be here to continue to give you straight forward information on what’s happening with skiing the Alps and travel to Europe.
  • Perhaps most important, as of mid-November, it seems a vaccine is becoming more of a reality for everyone in early next year.

THE MINUSES

  • The horrid, and growing, number of deaths and cases worldwide and here at home
  • The ongoing unemployment
  • Covid comparisons of the ski program countries vs. the US as of November 17th:
Country Population # Cases % Pop # Deaths % Pop
Austria 8,859,000 214,702 2.4 1,724 .01
France 66,990,000 1,991,233 2.9 45,054 .06
Italy 60,360,000 1,205,881 1.9 45,054 .07
Switzerland 8,570,000 264,448 3.0 3,501 .04
USA 328,202,000 11,110,565 3.4 246,195 .75

 

Of these countries, Switzerland has been rated #1 (by Forbes) for travel safety based on 130 protocols measuring data such as effects of quarantine, monitoring of government controls, mask wearing, PPE equipment use, certification by local governments of “clean & safe” certification.

  • Perhaps I’ve been too low key but here, New York, has been hit hard economically. For example, it is estimated up to 50% of the city’s 27,000 restaurants will not reopen. It is also estimated two-thirds of all hotels countrywide will not reopen and 25-30% of all businesses in the US will not survive the pandemic. Like in your communities, I see the economic hardships in our city’s streets, first-hand, every day.

THE CURRENT STATE OF THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY

  • Within the travel industry, the virus has had a catastrophic effect with perhaps as many as 40% businesses having permanently closed
  • It’s believed travel overall will not recover to 2019 levels until minimally 2022-23
  • Resorts have set up preventive measures for skiers

LOOKING AHEAD, HOW IT HAS AFFECTED OUR POSSIBLE TRAVEL TO THE ALPS
RE: AIR TRANSPORTATION:

  • All flights to Europe for Americans were canceled in early July and are continuing to be until our Covid numbers drop significantly. The Europeans review that status every two weeks. As of late October, and our recent uptick in case numbers, there’s no change.
  • United has begun free Covid testing on its Newark/London flights
  • Some TSA locations are using thermal cameras and possibly bio-metric scans
  • As of this writing, all airlines to Europe have loosened or totally dropped all change and cancellation fees. These changes are supposedly permanent but only time will tell. Refunds are given when an unacceptable schedule change occurs or cancellation of a flight.
  • All require masks: No mask, no getting on the plane. Swiss does not allow shields.
  • Many are starting to require being tested within 14 days prior to a flight. Most take passengers’ temperatures before boarding.
  • Abbott is to have a :15 test for $ 5.00 by sometime this month.
  • All carriers are continually disinfecting their planes and using HEPA air filters. Many keep the middle seat free

RE: TRAVEL INSURANCE VIA TRAVELEX OR ANY OTHER COMPANY:Should you take it? Yes and no. Obviously it depends on the type of coverage purchased which is tricky so always read the fine print.
Reasons for coverage:

  • Cancellation for health reasons. Amount refunded: TBD
  • Cancel for any reason is more expensive and usually only 75% is refunded
  • Cancel for economic reasons (such as job loss) – usually not refunded
  • Fear to travel – not covered unless a cancel for any reason policy
  • Cancel due to CDC alert – usually not covered except, again, with a cancel for any reason policy
  • Cancel due to employment issues – within some trip cancellation policies and again with cancel for any reason policy
  • If you get the virus while traveling – you may be covered and also if you’re quarantined due to a virus outbreak. Contact your insurance provider

RE: TRANSPORTATION FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE SKI RESORTS:

  • In Switzerland everyone has to wear a mask on the trains which are minimally disinfected daily
  • Hand sanitizers are readily available in the airports, train stations, on trains, etc.
  • Any transfers from Geneva Airport to French ski resorts for this winter are shared van services rather than the regularly scheduled buses.
  • Private transfers to all resorts can be arranged.

RE: IN THE SKI RESORTS:

  • First of all, hotels will not accept financial responsibility if a guest contacts the virus while staying there.
  • Hotels in each country have set up the common controls to counter the virus. A sampling:
    • Guests must have a valid Covid test done within two weeks of arrival
    • Temperatures will be checked on arrival & some hotels amy have online check-in
    • Mask wearing is mandatory & maintain social distancing
    • Employees are tested regularly
    • There will be expanded cleaning and daily disinfecting of rooms and public areas
    • Hand sanitizers will be in public areas, guest rooms and some will have protective kits for guests instead of assorted toiletry offerings
    • Limited numbers will be allowed on an elevator
    • Hotel shuttle drivers will wear PPE equipment with limited numbers and porters will wear gloves
    • Room service will only be to the door & turn down service is done only when guests not present
    • Spas are included with the above requirements
    • Buffet breakfasts will be served, like dinners
    • Newspapers and magazines are only on request
    • Many will allow free cancellation up to 15 days prior to arrival
  • Many resort resources will now be cash-free so bring credit cards
  • Some ski rental shops may be closed so inquire ahead if you’re planning on renting
  • Ski lifts will also be disinfected minimally daily with limited numbers allowed on chairlifts and gondolas. When possible, it’s suggested to open gondola windows. If lifts are shut down due to the virus, ski passes will be refunded.
  • Those wonderful mountain restaurants will have plexiglass separators for indoor diners
  • It’s suggested to have a private guide/instructor for lower one-on-one contact rather than ski school
  • For those wanting to travel but have trepidation, it’s suggested to avoid the ‘high holy days’ meaning Christmas, New Year’s, our Presidents’ week, and most of February (a vacation month for the UK and Europeans).
  • Après ski – It’s probably smart to avoid it. If not possible, maybe confine it to one pub crawl to avoid second Ischgl-like disaster
  • Returning home: We may or may not have to be quarantined depending on the state one lives in