Czechs take to the hills, despite ski resorts shuttered due to Covid-19

Photo: ČTK/Luboš Pavlíček

Neither rain nor sleet nor closure of ski resorts, lifts, hotels and services due to coronavirus have stopped Czechs from violating government restrictions and taking to the slopes, albeit on foot, cross-country skis and in toboggans. 

In some areas, resort operators have been bending or breaking government rules meant to contain the spread of Covid-19. Other operators complain of people using slopes that they maintain at great expense but are seeing no income from.

While ski lifts, hotels, and restaurants have been ordered closed, hordes of people are heading to resort areas in winter wonderlands like the Krkonoše Mountains. Many had long planned to stay from Christmas until New Year’s Day, lodging in winter camps or in private holiday flats. Others headed to the hills to escape lockdown in the cities.

Photo: ČTK/Luboš Pavlíček

Ivo Vondrák, governor of the Moravian-Silesian region, told a news conference on Monday that he had gone to assess the situation on the slopes for himself – and was alarmed at what he saw.

“I have information and photographic evidence that some ski resorts are ignoring orders not to be in operation. Video cameras have been turned off on the slopes. Centres are crowded and people are not wearing facemasks. We are not in a situation that we can allow that.”

The governor’s admonishment had the opposite effect, the news site reports, emboldening others to hit the slopes without fear of repercussions. Meanwhile, one ski complex owner told Czech Television government restrictions apply to lifts but not “conveyor belts” carrying people to the top of a hill to go sledding.

Photo: ČTK/Luboš Pavlíček

Other ski resorts are still eerily quiet. In the woods by one dormant slope, a Czech Radio reporter came across a pensioner named Josef, doing a bit of hiking and sledding with his wife and grandchildren. Like many families, they had booked a winter campsite well in advance and are determined to make the best of it.

“We can’t do anything else. And even if skiing were allowed, we still couldn’t go to a restaurant to warm up. It’s really odd. But it didn’t stop us from going to the Krkonoše Mountains. What would we do in Prague? It’s even worse there. A lot of people have seasonal rentals here, so they can come. Others who would like to are just unlucky.”