A week ago, Seilbahnen Schweiz announced that the protection plans for cable cars in the winter season would be the same as for public transport: mandatory masks, physical distancing and ventilation. This means no certificate obligation – if the number of cases remains low.
"No change in protection concepts", write Seilbahnen Schweiz in the media release of Tuesday, 19 October, based on the general assembly of Seilbahnen Schweiz in Le Châble/Verbier. Their president, Hans Wicki, and director Berno Stoffel informed that the talks on the protection plans with the federal and cantonal offices were very constructive.
For the time being, no changes to the current regulations for cable cars will be introduced. Cable car companies will begin the winter season with the same rules and regulations as public transport: "mandatory masks in closed cabins and rooms, physical distancing indoors and ventilation in cabins." The good experiences last winter were appreciated by the federal government and the cantons, he said. The pragmatic implementation of the measures is to be continued this winter, writes Seilbahnen Schweiz.
Announcement too early
Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) confirmed the exchange with Seilbahnen Schweiz at the media conference, which also took place last Tuesday. For him, the announcement that there would be no certificate requirement in ski resorts came too soon. This could still change, depending on the epidemiological situation.
One day later, on Wednesday, 20 October, the Federal Council seemed confident. We are in very close contact with the industry, said federal councillor Alain Berset. Matthias In-Albon, managing director of Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG), commented: "Patrick Mathys may not have known at Tuesday's media conference that the General Secretariat GS-EDI and the FOPH itself had already given the green light for communication," hence the contradictory statements.
Epidemiological situation is key factor
Berset said that the Federal Council could not guarantee that winter sports can be practised without a certificate throughout the entire winter. That would depend on the number of cases. However, SRF editor Urs Leuthard interpreted the Federal Council's statements as a tacit agreement that cable cars can be used without a certificate this winter.
On the right track
"In my opinion, the path we have taken with the proven protective measures is the right path. We proved last year that we can handle the measures well and implement them successfully," said In-Albon, who was pleased with the decision. The decision did not come as a surprise. The cable cars have been in close contact with federal parliamentarians and cantonal government officials for some time.
A few weeks ago, a single ski resort announced that it would operate its lifts with certificate requirements. Marie-Line Michel, media spokeswoman for the BDG, said: "This will not be implemented in Gstaad unless decreed by the federal government." However, the certificate requirement applies in mountain restaurants and the mask requirement in all indoor areas, she added.
Based on AvS/Blanca Burri