All you need to know about free ski lessons in Chamonix, the Pass Sanitaire, Travel regulations and French COVID regulations for safe skiing in Chamonix.
Update 14.01.21 - travel from UK to France suspension revoked by the French Government for all except non-vaccinated travellers, with effect from 14.01.21 See travel requirements here
In this new world of ours we can at last look forward to some time in the mountains, skiing, snowboarding, ski touring, snow shoeing the same as we always have done, but with a few precautionary measures in place to protect us all.
But... Before we get on to that let’s start with some exciting news about free ski lessons!!!! There's no catch - the Chamonix Tourist Office is offering free group lessons for anyone staying for a minimum of 3 nights between the following dates: 7 January - 4 February 2022 and 7th March to 1st April 2022. You will find full details here.
Now... moving on to the thorny subject of COVID Regs
We’ll go through the measures as they stand at the moment, as at 10 December (with some updates), but do check French websites for the latest updates. Hopefully the points below will answer any questions or doubts you may have. The French government issued a protocol on 18th November (since updated) which clearly lays down the regulations in mountain resorts for mask wearing and for the Pass Sanitaire so we will start with those.
This is required in all lift queues and on ski lifts for those aged 11 and over. The mask must be a surgical mask or a ‘category 1 fabric mask (AFNOR SPEC S76-001 certification)’. We’d suggest a special Buff (now aka “Filter Tube”) or similar, which has replaceable filters of a surgical mask standard. Much easier to deal with whilst joining a ski lift queue than a standard mask! Social distancing must also be adhered to. Mask wearing is not required whilst skiing.
Masks are also required in public places such as bars and restaurants, in the Tourist Office, in the Ski Schools (indoors), in the museum, the cinema and other cultural centres. Also on public transport. They are not required in clubs.
The Health Pass or Pass Sanitaire (needed for ski lifts, bars, etc)
UPDATE 18TH JAN
The Pass Sanitaire this week (exact date still tbc) becomes the Pass Sanitaire Vaccinal. To get this you will need to use your NHS QR code to prove you are fully vaccinated, in conjunction with the French App TousAntiCovid (with English instructions)
The picture is somewhat complicated for the under 18's.
All those over 12 need to be fully vaccinated to get one.
Children 12 - 15 can take a lateral flow test every 24 hours instead, to gain access to ski lifts etc, or if fully vaccinated can apply online for the NHS Covid Pass Letter to prove their vaccination status and thereby get access to the Pass Sanitaire Vaccinal
16+ can use the NHS App to show they are fully vaccinated, but the important message is that 16 and 17 years olds must be fully vaccinated to ski. ie 2 jabs and second jab with the last within the last 7 months or 2 plus a booster.
The Health Pass is required for all over 12’s and certifies that the holder is fully vaccinated or has had a negative COVID test within the previous 24* hours or has recovered from Covid within the last 6 months (but at least 11 days ago). (*with effect from 29 November)
How to get it if you are fully vaccinated: For citizens of some countries such as the UK, whose vaccination certification is recognised by the EU’s digital COVID certification system, the process is relatively simple and Brits can show the QR code from their NHS COVID pass. They can also upload it to the French app: TousAntiCovid. For others such as Canada and the USA word on the street has it that CDC cards are widely accepted, though in theory visitors should now present their CDC card and passport at certain designated pharmacies, and for around 36 euros they will be issued with a Pass Sanitaire.
For the unvaccinated (now only those aged 12-15): designated pharmacies** in Chamonix will test you for COVID (PCR or Antigen) and if negative will issue a Pass Sanitaire valid for 24 hours. There is also certification of recovery from COVID, but it is currently unclear (to us!) what format this should take for those outside the EU. Perhaps just the certified results of a positive RT-PCR antigen test - to be further researched!
Where will you need a Pass Sanitaire? Almost everywhere is the short answer, and as of 29 November also on the ski areas and lifts. The long answer is: Bars, restaurants, ski areas and lifts, long distance public transport, clubs, swimming pools, galleries, museums, theatres, cinema, hospitals (except in an emergency, which is good to know), shopping malls, large department stores… etc.
Other steps to protect everyone against COVID include the provision of hand sanitiser at lift queues, ski schools and in other public places, plus the re-organisation of queuing systems to encourage social distancing.
**Details of designated pharmacies for COVID testing and also more about the health pass can be found on the tourist office website here.
Documentation to enter France will vary, depending on where you are coming from and whether or not you are fully vaccinated. Everyone must have a certificate of travel, completed to attest that you have no COVID symptoms etc, the various options of form to fill out can be found here. You must be careful to choose the correct form depending on whether or not you are vaccinated and where you are travelling from.
Most travellers will require negative COVID tests, PCR or Antigen, taken no more than 24 hours before travelling to France, check with your government website or the French government website. Children 11 years old and younger and travelling with a fully vaccinated adult do not need a COVID test if travelling from an amber country (eg the UK).
If flying into Geneva en route to France you will need to have completed the Swiss entry form/Passenger Locator Form, even if only transiting, and have taken a negative COVID (PCR) test no more than 72 hours before flying or a lateral flow test within 24 hours. So logically speaking the 24 hour lateral flow test for France should cover you for both countries. Unvaccinated passengers will not be allowed in.
Unvaccinated adults will need an essential reason to be allowed to travel to France, again check the French government website to see what reasons this includes, but skiing isn't one of them.
Unvaccinated children aged 12-17 and travelling with fully vaccinated adults do not need an essential reason to travel but must have a negative COVID test result within the 24 hours prior to arrival in France.
All these rules are in place for a reason – to prevent the spread of COVID, it may seem a little tedious but it is a small price to pay for being able to get back out onto the slopes this winter. Chamonix has pulled out all the stops to make things as easy as possible for everyone, and everywhere is super sanitised. Collineige Chalets are no exception and we have special cleaning procedures to make sure that everyone is safe – so go out there and enjoy yourselves!!!