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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What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.