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Covid-19 in Chamonix

Discover the latest Chamonix Covid-19 Coronavirus updates

Ana Hernández, Chamonix Editor | Published

As more and more airlines announce their intention to resume international flights this summer, we ponder if and when you should consider coming to the Alps and whether Chamonix is safe to visit this summer and winter. Spoiler alert – on balance, our answer is yes; local businesses and authorities are working hard to turn Chamonix into a safe haven for visitors and are preparing to safely welcome travellers as soon as they possibly can.

The world has been turned upside down in the last few weeks and our new normal is full of uncommon words like lockdown and social distancing, while face masks and hand sanitiser are now part of our daily routine. However, things are rapidly changing and, as Europe takes the first steps to open its borders, we take a look at the situation in Chamonix.

When will the lockdown be lifted in Chamonix?

The short answer is that lockdown will probably be lifted in France in mid to late June. Here's why:

Chamonix entered lockdown on March 17th 2020 together with the rest of France. As coronavirus cases have dwindled, the French government has started to take the first steps on what they call 'déconfinement' or their plan to ease lockdown, which began on May 11th. The first phase will continue until June 1st and, depending on the area's epidemiological situation, certain activities are allowed. The French government has created a map that divides the country into red and green departments based on the level of circulation of the virus, pressure on hospitals and intensive care units, and the ability to test for Covid-19. Chamonix is situated in the Haute-Savoie region, which has been marked green, meaning that the virus is less active here.

This means that, from May 11th to June 1st, outdoor sports are allowed in Chamonix within 100km of people's homes (as the crow flies) although team and contact sports remain prohibited. Gatherings of up to 10 people are also possible while a selection of public businesses, services and spaces are open. These include forests, gardens and parks, shops smaller than 40,000m2 (which is most of them), open-air markets, some schools, public transport, libraries and small museums. Social distancing, safety and hygiene measures must remain firmly in place.

Chamonix will enter phase 2 of the 'déconfinement on June 2nd. By then, cafes, bars, restaurants and campsites will be able to reopen, as long as there are no more than 10 people per table and a there's distance of at least 1m between tables. Both staff and customers will have to wear masks, although it can be removed when not moving around the facilities. Beaches, lakes, swimming pools and sports centres will also start welcoming people once more. Travel beyond a 100km radius will also be allowed as will some small events, although gatherings of more than 5,000 people won't be authorised before September 2020.

When will you be able to travel to Chamonix?

According to France's Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, from June 15th.

On May 28th, during a press conference, he stated that the government is in favour of the EU's internal borders reopening on June 15th, without any quarantines in place. As for non-European countries, the EU will make a decision as a whole.

Some airlines, including Easyjet and Swiss, had already announced that they planned to start operating international flights to Geneva on June 15th 2020. Strict safety measures such as temperature checks, disinfection of aircrafts, compulsory use of masks, online check-ins and reduction in the number of bags to be taken onboard will ensure that everyone is safe when coming to Chamonix.

When will the lifts reopen in Chamonix?

Ever since Chamonix entered the 'deconfinement' on May 11th, people have been able to return to the mountains. Hiking, climbing, mountain biking and even skiing on the higher slopes where the snow still remains have meant a welcome respite for Alpine dwellers, eager to reach the summits once more. Hopefully, from June 2nd, we'll also be able to go to bars and restaurants and hotels and holiday rentals will welcome travellers again.

The two most popular sights in the Chamonix Valley, the Aiguille du Midi lift and the Montenvers-Mer de Glace vintage train, opened to the public on May 16th 2020 with strict safety measures in place. These include checking visitors' temperature, providing hand sanitiser, regular disinfection of all lifts, trains and buildings and adapting facilities to comply with safety distances. Visitors are also asked to wear face masks at all times, which they must provide themselves.

Most of the summer lifts in Chamonix will officially open in early to mid-June 2020 and we expect that similar safety and hygiene guidelines to be enforced. These dates depend, however, on the evolution of the virus in the area.

What are businesses in Chamonix doing to keep customers safe?

We keep talking about safety and hygiene measures but, what are they exactly? Businesses in Chamonix have taken steps to ensure that they provide a safe environment for both their customers and their workers, such as:

  • Social distancing: In general, experts recommend keeping a distance of 1m to 2m between people. There are different ways to ensure this, from reducing capacity to increasing the space between people on lifts or between tables at bars and restaurants, and even installing screens to separate customers – many hospitality businesses have already been testing them.
  • Disinfection: Lifts, shops, bars, restaurants, rental properties, hotels... they'll all be fully disinfected periodically, as well as after each customer when workers will also clean their hands thoroughly. Hand sanitiser is already available everywhere to customers at the entrances of lifts, supermarkets small shops and cafes.
  • Protection: Wearing gloves and face masks is encouraged in public spaces. Masks are obligatory in public transport (including planes), when entering shops if the business requires it, and in bars, restaurants and cafes when wandering around the facilities. Temperature checks will also be commonplace and they're already being carried out in airports.
  • Information: Businesses in Chamonix are designing specific Covid-19 protocols and they'll inform the public of the steps and instructions to follow before and during their visit.

Will you be able to ski in Chamonix this winter?

Winter opening dates haven't been announced yet but, since the lifts are going to be operating this summer, it looks like a winter opening is definitely on the cards. Chamonix's lifts usually whir into action sometime in early to mid-December – we'll update our ski lift opening dates guide as soon as we know anything.

Being able to maintain social distancing on lifts and mountain areas is something that both authorities and local businesses have been contemplating for weeks. Tests are being carried out with methods ranging from installing screens to reducing the lifts' capacity – we'll see what the best strategy is very soon. Worry not, however, the snow will come in winter just like it does every year and the mountain air will probably be cleaner than ever. We even expect a drop in the number of mountain bikers and skiers which means that the Alps will probably be quieter than ever... a silver lining if ever there was one!

7 tips to stay safe in Chamonix this summer & winter

1. Follow safety and hygiene guidelines
We keep repeating it but following safety and hygiene rules is the best way to stay safe on your holidays in Chamonix: keep a distance of 2 metres, wash your hands and wear a mask (or cover your nose and mouth). Try not to touch your face as well... we know, easier said than done!

2. Trust local businesses
Not only are businesses in Chamonix putting strict safety and hygiene measures in place but they've also made cancellations much more flexible. This means that, if for any reason you're forced to cancel your holiday, you'll probably be given a full refund.

Look out for our Covid-Proof Booking symbol when booking your accommodation, your ski lessons, your ski hire or your activities on our site. For example, Mountain Base, who have an extensive portfolio of apartments and chalets all around the Chamonix Valley, are offering the possibility of transferring your holiday to the same dates in 2021 if a government-imposed lockdown due to Covid-19 directly prevents your travel or the booked service being provided this summer (until 15th September). Other companies have adopted similar terms, including Mont Blanc Retreats, who offer stunning chalets in Chamonix or Chamonix Location, who also have a great selection of holiday rentals in the area.

3. Avoid the crowds
The easiest way to comply with social distancing is to avoid crowds altogether. We've got a few strategies to help you with that like, for example, booking a whole chalet or an entire apartment instead of a hotel room, that way you can prevent bumping into other guests during your stay.

After weeks of confinement, being outdoors, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun's warmth on our skin is just what we need. Scientists are actually testing whether heat and UV radiation in sunlight might affect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, two things which are plentiful in Chamonix both in the summer and the winter – just remember to lather up with sunscreen!

In Chamonix, you can easily enjoy the outdoors while avoiding the crowds. Just opt for private lessons and activities instead of group ones, such as booking a private ski or snowboard instructor just for you and your group of friends or family, or a private transfer to take you from Geneva airport to your accommodation. There are plenty of other things you can do in the area in small groups, from canyoning and whitewater rafting in the summer to snowshoeing and heliskiing in the winter.

4. Book early
Limitations regarding the amount of people that businesses can welcome or the crowds that events can gather are being enforced. That's why, now more than ever, we recommend you book early. This will ensure you get the best table in Chamonix's hottest apres-ski spot!

5. Get off the beaten path
Another great strategy to avoid the crowds and to discover Chamonix's hidden gems along the way is to visit the area's lesser-known places. The Mont-Blanc valley is full of charming secret spots and the best way to explore them is to book a local guide. You'll get to ski internationally famous off-piste routes like the Vallée Blanche, reach remote stashes of powder, hit challenging trails on a mountain bike (or an e-bike – perfect for the whole family!), hike the Alpine summits and try out new things like canyoning, paragliding or mountaineering. There's a world of choices away from the tourist crowds in Chamonix!

6. Entertain at yours
Celebrations aren't off the table this summer and winter in Chamonix. However, instead of booking a restaurant or a bar, why not ask a catering company to bring the party to you? Private chalets and apartments make for great venues and Chamonix has an excellent selection of catering companies ranging from private chefs to delivered ready-made meals providing the best street grub from your own garden.

7. Drive to Chamonix
Maintaining social distancing on planes and trains can be quite tricky, so why not drive to Chamonix? It takes around 8 hours to get from Calais to Chamonix town centre and tolls cost around €80 each way. We know that cars aren't great for the environment but their carbon footprint is much lower than that of planes with studies suggesting that flights emit around 133g of carbon dioxide per person while a diesel car carrying four passengers emits only 43gr per person. Once in Chamonix, leave your vehicle at one of the local car parks and move around on foot or using the great network of free shuttle buses that'll take you to the foot of the slopes in no time.

More information

Everyone's working hard to ensure that Chamonix has a safe summer and winter season. For up to date information on travelling during the Coronavirus crisis, please visit the Covid-19-dedicated WHO's website and the UK Foreign Office's France travel advice website or ask your local authorities.

Stay safe and remember that we're here to help you with your bookings and with any questions you may have about Chamonix.

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