France has announced new rules for the upcoming winter ski season that will change how mountain visitors can spend their time off the slopes.

The biggest changes will be in restaurants and bars, where standing at the bar waiting for a drink will be replaced by table service. This will spell the end – at least temporarily – of party-hungry skiers and boarders climbing on tables and dancing till sundown at popular on-mountain après bars.

Other changes will included visitors having to wear a mask in restaurants and bars until they are seated. Tables will be distanced at least one metre apart or where this isn’t possible, must be separated by screens in order to adhere to the social distancing rules.

These rules will apply across the French Alps and Pyrenees. Similar measures are also being put in place across Austrian resorts too.

Austrian tourism minister Elisabeth Koestinger commented: “There will be no après-ski as we know it from earlier times.”

How will this affect Skiing and Snowboarding?

There has been speculation that changes like these will have an affect on the mountain sports that draw so many tourists across the winter. However, members from French tourist offices have stated that these changes will not have a result on the numbers of people aloud on the slopes.

Caroline Famy from Courchevel tourism office said, “of course the ski resort will open… we have already organised our sanitised measures and those will be adapted on the evolution of the situation.”

This doesn’t mean there won’t be new measures for those on the slopes. Everyone will be required to wear masks in lift queues and on lifts themselves. There are no plans to limit the number of people aloud in a gondola, though. It will certainly be interesting to see how people use lifts this season, and how they will ‘police’ these rules for mask wearing.

Resorts are encouraging visitors to pre-book their lift passes, as the also limits the numbers of people needing to go to purchase their lift passes in person when they arrive in resort.

Changes for Skiing and Snowboarding lessons

There are also mask wearing rules for those partaking in lessons on the mountain. People will be required to wear a mask at the beginning and end of lessons where they are likely to be in closer proximity, but once the lesson has begun on the slopes, those people won’t be required to wear masks.

Changes for shops – including hire shops

Further measures are taking place in the hire shops, where equipment passes between people on a daily and weekly basis. More training and cleaning practices are said to be being put in place to keep both the shops and equipment safer, and all people will be required to wear masks when inside the shops.

These rules will clearly change how certain activities in the mountains feel, but they are all important measures to ensure visitors and those working in the mountains safety. We think these measures will help to keep the Ski and Snowboard holidaymakers frequenting resorts and continuing to enjoy the fantastic sports in the outdoors.