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SKIING

France ‘considering’ making health pass compulsory for ski lifts

France's tourism minister says he is considering whether to make the health pass compulsory for using ski lifts - which would largely rule out French skiing holidays for the unvaccinated.

Ski lifts in France could require a health pass
Ski lifts in France could require a health pass. Photo: Olivier Chassignole/AFP

Tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne is still working with industry representatives to make the definite plan for the 2021/22 ski season, but says that making health passports compulsory for ski lifts is “under consideration”.

A full announcement is expected within the next few days.

The health passport is already compulsory for many leisure activities in France including trips to bars and restaurants. It is also compulsory for long-distance train travel or for those taking a plane to French ski resorts, but for the moment it is not required to use ski lifts.

READ ALSO Will France have a normal ski season this year?

Currently the resorts already open, such as Tignes in the Alps, are applying the general French rules on the health passport.

Lemoyne told SudRadio: “That is to say that if you go to a restaurant in a resort, you will be asked for your health pass, if you go to a nightclub you will be asked for the health pass.

“For the ski lifts, at this stage it’s without the health pass,” he said, but added “it shouldn’t be excluded because the pass is what allows you to stay open whatever happens.”

If the health pass is required, then only those who take part in the demanding sport of cross-country skiing – which does not require a ski lift – would be able to ski in French resorts this winter.

The French health pass is for all over 12s and requires proof of either fully vaccinated status, recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the last 72 hours. Covid tests for tourists and unvaccinated residents are no longer free.

READ ALSO When and where you need a health pass in France

Lemoyne said that the British market is “very important for French skiing” but added “we can see that in Great Britain the incidence rate and the number of cases are very high, between 40,000 and 50,000 cases per day and in France we see a slight increase in the incidence rate.”

Authorities in Switzerland announced earlier this week that a health pass will not be required to take part in mountain sports, although it will be needed for the après ski bars and restaurants, while in Austria the health pass is required for both ski lifts and socialising.

Jean-Luc Boch, president of the association of French mountain resort mayors, told France Bleu: “If it’s going to be with a pass for ski lifts, then so be it. But we have to decide.

“We need to be sure in order to secure the customers and to be able to put in place a means of rapid checks.”

In addition to the health pass, the standard French health rules around masks and distancing will also be in place in ski resorts.

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STRIKES

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry. 

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