SHOULD WE GO OR SHOULD WE STAY? THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS ANTHEM IN FRENCH SKI RESORTS
How long will the French resorts remain open with the government now restricting gatherings to 100 people? The answer is a very Gallic shrug of the shoulders so keep calm and carry on skiing...
Are the days numbered for ski resorts in France for the rest of this season?
As we were on the first 9am chair ift, this morning (avoiding the close proximity with potentially infected strangers in the gonodolas) we did wonder if Serre Chevalier and all the other French ski resorts would decide to shut this week because of the concerns about coronavirus. With ski resort closures throughout Italy, Switzerland and Austria surely the French will be next?
Following a meeting, last night in Serre Che, the official line is that the resort will be staying open until the official end of the season on 19th April. That is, unless the government makes it mandatory to close.
Today, the Grand Prix fun race event was supposed to take place but was cancelled a week ago because of the ban for all gatherings over 1000 people. Now there's a ban for over 100 people gathering with France's Health Minister, Olivier Vera, making a plea to: 'Respect social distancing, acknowledge someone rather than greet them physically, keep a metre distance and limit non-essential travel as well visits to the most vulnerable'.
This makes you wonder how Club Med can stay open in resort with a capacity for some 1000 guests let alone the mountain restaurants that cater for large numbers inside and on their terraces? Up the hill, this morning, the deckchairs were set out in rows in front of the cafes. A metre apart? You couldn't squeeze a baguette between them. And visitors have been pouring into town from Marseilles all day to enjoy a weekend of skiing. Essential travel? Right!
Meanwhile, people were self-isolating in the gondolas. You didn't need a lifty to reduce the numbers per gondola. If you sneezed, you'd have one all to yourself. On the chairlifts, though, there were still four and five skiers going up per chair, shoulder to shoulder, germ to germ.Never have I seen so many Buffs worn high over nose and mouth on a warm sunny day.
What is most remarkable, is the sudden change to the traditional French social greetings. No more kiss, kiss to each cheeck or kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss if you're family or close friends. Now bumping fists, elbows and feet has become the ironic greeting especially among the Brits who make it look like a sketch straight out of Monty Python.
So should we stay or should we go? The Clash words are echoing down the Serre Che valley as Brits who are here for the winter are debating whether to stay or return to Blighty? Among most there is the keep calm and carry on spirit. After all the Brits have fought and survived worse in France. Meanwhile, those who have ski holidays booked are agonising over whether to come out to France and risk getting locked in if travel is restricted and airports closed. Currently it seems numbers in ther resort are fairly evenly balanced between those leaving to return home and the French arriving because, if the schools and universities are closed from Monday then, bien sur, why not come skiing?