With one third of humanity currently experiencing what life means on lockdown, people all over the world are learning from the Coronavirus pandemic that we cannot take our lifestyles for granted…. I would say the mood locally is “cautiously optimistic” which mirrors the 65% of French people in an recent Ifop poll in Le Parisien who felt that a cautious approach is more important than a rapid return to normal life.
Thankfully in the Chamonix Mont Blanc valley and in our neighbouring countries of Italy and Switzerland we are now seeing some light after lockdown. Shops are open again in all three countries and people are moving freely in their local areas.
The most exciting thing that has changed locally is being able to explore the mountains, people are now able to freely walk, run or bike along the fabulous hiking trails throughout the valley. For visitors (and locals!) the famous Aguile du Midi cable car re-opened this weekend. Standing at 3,777m high people can once again enjoy a spectacular 360° view across the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Other mountain lifts will be opening gradually, so we will all be able to explore higher and further than before.
Geneva in Switzerland(our closest major city) has seen the re-opening of many of its cafes and restaurants for more than take away service. Up to 4 people can now be seated together to enjoy table service (families can enjoy bigger groups). The servers are wearing masks and the 2 metre rule is being respected.
I think it is a real testament to our willingness to adapt and overcome that restaurateurs have re-organised their businesses to be able to serve. Fewer tables, daily or online menus (so that they don’t have to hand menus out) and different food choices, so that the food on offer has been handled less, are just some examples of the innovations.
Italy will reopen restaurants and coffee bars tomorrow as it continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown.
French plans for cafés and restaurants won't be announced until the end of May, but the government has already announced that as part of the aid package for citizens our restaurant vouchers, (a pre-existing government-funded program paying for all French workers to buy restaurant meals), will be doubled and extended to holidays and weekends.
I am wondering if this is likely to be the “new normal”? When going out for drinks or dinner in Switzerland, one customer in each group will also be asked to leave their contact details. That way, if another patron or restaurant worker tests positive for coronavirus, authorities will be able to alert the customers. That data must then be destroyed after 14 days.
When Italy opens its bars and restaurants tomorrow, they will also be doing the same.
Our closest Italian city, Turin saw the return of football star Cristiano Ronaldo recently! This is because Serie A clubs were given the green light to return to individual training on Monday. Ronaldo will be quarantined for 14 days, but tests for other players which will be kept for contact tracing began at the Juventus medical centre in Turin on Monday, giving fans hope that the 2019-20 season might yet be salvaged.
Italy is the first of our neighbours to have defined its International travel plans. The country’s foreign travel ban will be lifted on the 3rd of June - and people can also start moving freely across the country's regions on the same day. Anyone entering into Italy will not have to undergo a period of quarantine.
In France we are waiting for an announcement on the 2nd June and until then we are allowed 100km away for leisure, further only if the trip is necessary. The latest information regarding borders is that they are likely to open in mid-June. International travel plans aren’t set to be announced until 2nd June.
In Switzerland the borders with Germany and Austria are already open for those wishing to visit relatives or attend family events. The rules do not yet apply to France or Italy. A gradual re-introduction of free movement from France is planned for mid-June and the exact details of travel plans to-and-from Switzerland will be clarified on May 27th.
Please get in touch if you have any questions regarding trekking in the mountains. We will ensure that we keep you posted on what it's like over here and here are some updated resources to help you make informed decisions about future travel plans.
We recommend your own government’s travel advisory service information for your destination country:
UK, the FCO Travel Advice
Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs
USA, the State Department Travel Advisory
Canada, use Travel Advice & Advisories
Australia, the Smart Traveller Information Service
New Zealand, it’s SafeTravel.
Here is a roundup of the most up-to-date travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further details of our how we are protecting you and your booking see here: Coronavirus Client Protection
As ever, if you have any questions about your trip or our treks in general, we are here to help. Please give us a call or email us.
Jane at Mont Blanc Treks
UK: +44 (0)161 408 1222
FRANCE: +33 (0)7 81 58 69 03
USA: +1 303 800 5866
AUSTRALIA: +61 75660 6258