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About Covid-19 in Meribel

An outline of the situation in Meribel in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis

Featured in: | Ana Hernández, Meribel Editor | Published
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As more and more airlines announce their intention to resume international flights this summer, we ponder if and when you should consider coming to the Alps and whether Meribel is safe to visit this winter. Spoiler alert – on balance, our answer is yes; local businesses and authorities are working hard to turn Meribel into a safe haven for visitors and are preparing to safely welcome travellers as soon as they possibly can.

The world has been turned upside down in the last few weeks and our new normal is full of uncommon words like lockdown and social distancing, while face masks and hand sanitiser are now part of our daily routine. However, things are rapidly changing and, as Europe takes the first steps to open its borders, we take a look at the situation in Meribel.

When will the lockdown be lifted in Meribel?

The short answer is that lockdown will probably be lifted in France in mid to late June. Here's why:

Meribel entered lockdown on March 17th 2020 together with the rest of France. As coronavirus cases have dwindled, the French government has started to take the first steps on what they call 'déconfinement' or their plan to ease lockdown, which began on May 11th. In order to decide when to relax the lockdown measures, they have created a map that divides the country into red and green departments based on the level of circulation of the virus, pressure on hospitals and intensive care units, and the ability to test for Covid-19. Meribel is situated in the Savoie region, which has been marked green, meaning that the virus is less active here.

Meribel is currently on phase 2 of the 'déconfinement'. This means that, from June 2nd, there is no limit to what distance people can travel within France. Gatherings of up to 10 people are also possible, as are outdoor sports, and lifts can now reopen. Plenty of public spaces are also welcoming visitors, including lakes, sports centres, swimming pools, forests, gardens, parks, shops smaller than 40,000m2 (which is most of them), open-air markets, schools, public transport, libraries, cinemas, theatres and museums. Social distancing, safety and hygiene measures must remain firmly in place.

Cafes, bars, restaurants and campsites have also been able to reopen on June 2nd albeit with restrictions: there can't be more than 10 people per table, which must be separated by a distance of at least 1m between, while both staff and customers have to wear masks, although it can be removed when not moving around the facilities. Gatherings of more than 5,000 people won't be authorised before September 2020.

When will you be able to travel to Meribel?

French borders opened to EU citizens on June 15th, so you can visit Meribel if you're from a European country. International visitors will have to wait just a bit longer, until July 1st. Quarantines won't be imposed on those visiting France. However, if you're coming from a country that has quarantines in place, such as the UK, you may be asked to voluntarily self-quarantine – if you decide not to, there won't be any checks or fines. Just bear in mind that you may have to go into quarantine once you return to your own country.

On June 14th, France's Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron, confirmed that the country could start safely welcoming European tourists on June 15th. This was in response to the European Commission's call on member states to gradually reopen internal borders to kickstart the summer season. External EU borders will reopen on July 1st and only visitors from 15 countries will be able to enter Europe during the first phase. The list, disclosed by Brussels on June 29th, includes the following states: Argelia, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Georgia, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia, China and Uruguay.

Strict safety measures such as temperature checks, disinfection of aircrafts, compulsory use of masks, online check-ins and reduction in the number of bags to be taken onboard will ensure that everyone is safe when coming to Meribel.

Will you be able to ski in Meribel this winter?

Yes! Meribel winter lift opening dates have already been announced – the ski lifts will whir into action on December 5th 2020 and will remain open until April 23rd 2021 (snow conditions permitting).

Ever since Meribel entered the 'deconfinement' on May 11th, people have been able to return to the mountains. Hiking, climbing, mountain biking and even skiing on the higher slopes where the snow still remains have meant a welcome respite for Alpine dwellers, eager to reach the summits once more. From June 2nd, we're also able to go to bars and restaurants and hotels, while holiday rentals can welcome travellers again. Lifts are going to be operating this summer from July 4th to August 28th for pedestrians and mountain bikers coming to the Three Valleys.

Being able to maintain social distancing on lifts and mountain areas is something that both authorities and local businesses have been contemplating for weeks. Tests are being carried out with methods ranging from installing screens to reducing the lifts' capacity – we'll see what the best strategy is very soon. Worry not, however, the snow will come in winter just like it does every year and the mountain air will probably be cleaner than ever. We even expect a drop in the number of mountain bikers and skiers which means that the Alps will probably be quieter than ever... a silver lining if ever there was one!

What are businesses in Meribel doing to keep customers safe?

We keep talking about safety and hygiene measures but, what are they exactly? Businesses in Meribel have taken steps to ensure that they provide a safe environment for both their customers and their workers, such as:

  • Social distancing: In general, experts recommend keeping a distance of 1m to 2m between people. There are different ways to ensure this, from reducing capacity to increasing the space between people on lifts or between tables at bars and restaurants, and even installing screens to separate customers – many hospitality businesses have already been testing them.
  • Disinfection: Lifts, shops, bars, restaurants, rental properties, hotels... they'll all be fully disinfected periodically, as well as after each customer when workers will also clean their hands thoroughly. Hand sanitiser is already available everywhere to customers at the entrances of lifts, supermarkets small shops and cafes.
  • Protection: Wearing gloves and face masks is encouraged in public spaces. Masks are obligatory in public transport (including planes), when entering shops if the business requires it, and in bars, restaurants and cafes when wandering around the facilities. Temperature checks will also be commonplace and they're already being carried out in airports.
  • Information: Businesses in Meribel are designing specific Covid-19 protocols and they'll inform the public of the steps and instructions to follow before and during their visit.

7 tips to stay safe in Meribel this summer & winter

1. Follow safety and hygiene guidelines
We keep repeating it but following safety and hygiene rules is the best way to stay safe on your holidays in Meribel: keep a distance of 2 metres, wash your hands and wear a mask (or cover your nose and mouth). Try not to touch your face as well... we know, easier said than done!

2. Trust local businesses
Not only are businesses in Meribel putting strict safety and hygiene measures in place but they've also made cancellations much more flexible. This means that, if for any reason you're forced to cancel your holiday, you'll probably be given a full refund.

Look out for our Covid-Proof Booking symbol when booking your accommodation, your ski lessons, your ski hire or your activities on our site. For example, Bramble Ski, who have a selection of gorgeous luxury chalets in Meribel, are offering a full refund for cancellations up to August 31st 2020 if a government-imposed lockdown due to Covid-19 directly prevents your travel or the booked service being provided (applies to most properties – ask when booking).

Other companies have adopted similar terms, including AMS Rentals, who offer an extensive portfolio of holiday rentals in Meribel, featuring chalets and apartments or Fish & Pips who have a handful of beautiful catered chalets in the area and will refund any down payments up to September 30th 2020. Many other accommodation and activity companies in the area are putting similar measures into place so you should feel completely safe when booking your winter holidays in Meribel.

3. Avoid the crowds
The easiest way to comply with social distancing is to avoid crowds altogether. We've got a few strategies to help you with that like, for example, booking a whole chalet or an entire apartment instead of a hotel room, that way you can prevent bumping into other guests during your stay.

After weeks of confinement, being outdoors, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun's warmth on our skin is just what we need. Scientists are actually testing whether heat and UV radiation in sunlight might affect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, two things which are plentiful in Meribel – just remember to lather up with sunscreen!

In the Three Valleys, you can easily enjoy the outdoors while avoiding the crowds. Just opt for private lessons and activities instead of group ones, such as booking a private ski or snowboard instructor just for you and your group of friends or family, or a private transfer to take you from Geneva airport to your accommodation. There are plenty of other things you can do in the area in small groups, from whitewater rafting in the summer to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

4. Book early
Limitations regarding the amount of people that businesses can welcome or the crowds that events can gather are being enforced. That's why, now more than ever, we recommend you book early. This will ensure you get the best table in Meribel's hottest apres-ski spot!

5. Get off the beaten path
Another great strategy to avoid the crowds and to discover Meribel's hidden gems along the way is to visit the area's lesser-known places. The Three Valleys are full of charming secret spots and the best way to explore them is to book a local guide. You'll get to ski remote stashes of powder, hit challenging trails on a mountain bike (or an e-bike – perfect for the whole family!), hike the Alpine summits and try out new things like sightseeing from a helicopter or paragliding. There's a world of choices away from the tourist crowds in Meribel!

6. Entertain at yours
Celebrations aren't off the table this summer and winter in Meribel. However, instead of booking a restaurant or a bar, why not ask a catering company to bring the party to you? Private chalets and apartments make for great venues and Meribel has an excellent selection of catering companies ranging from private chefs to delivered ready-made meals providing the best street grub from your own garden.

7. Drive to Meribel
Maintaining social distancing on planes and trains can be quite tricky, so why not drive to Meribel? It takes around 9 hours to get from Calais to Meribel and tolls cost around €80 each way. We know that cars aren't great for the environment but their carbon footprint is much lower than that of planes with studies suggesting that flights emit around 133g of carbon dioxide per person while a diesel car carrying four passengers emits only 43gr per person. Once in Meribel, leave your vehicle at one of the local car parks and move around on foot or using the great network of free shuttle buses that'll take you to the foot of the slopes in no time.

More information

Everyone's working hard to ensure that Meribel has a safe winter season. For up to date information on travelling during the Coronavirus crisis, please visit the Covid-19-dedicated WHO's website and the UK Foreign Office's France travel advice website or ask your local authorities.

Stay safe and remember that we're here to help you with your bookings and with any questions you may have about Meribel.