Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland’s modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut.
France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows.
Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fuelling the pandemic.
“If it’s open, I’ll definitely ski,” said Swede Max Ahlstedt, on the glacier where Zermatt offers year-round skiing. “You just have to … accept wearing a mask.”
Over the border in Cervinia, on the Italian side of the glacier, the lifts have been closed indefinitely since Oct. 25.
Some Swiss resorts, including Davos to the northwest, boast of “cold-fogging” equipment to blast the interiors of gondolas and “kill 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and spores in a minute”.