When do ski resorts open in Scotland? Date Glenshee, The Lecht, Glencoe and Cairngorm centres will welcome visitors

The current travel guidance applies when visiting Scottish ski centres

With many ski resorts in Europe closed over the festive period, ski centres in Scotland are hoping people will flock to the local mountains.

Some of the country’s popular ski centres are set to open in December, after last season was cut short in March by the coronavirus lockdown.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Scotland’s ski resorts reopening - including the social distancing measures in place.

People will soon be able to take to the slopes in Scotland (Shutterstock)
People will soon be able to take to the slopes in Scotland (Shutterstock)

When do Scottish ski centres open?

One of the country’s most famed ski centres, Glencoe Mountain Resort, has been welcoming visitors for sledging and children’s activities since 5 December.

Bosses plan to open the resort for skiing on December 19 - but if there is a lot of snowfall before then, it could open early.

The Lecht and Glenshee Ski Centre, both in Aberdeenshire, plan to open for snowsports on the same date, although only the lower slopes may be open in Glenshee meaning ticket sales could be limited.

Cairngorm Mountain announced at the beginning of December that recent wintery conditions meant the resort was planning to open on 19 December.

Nevis Range, near Fort William, has said it will open if travel restrictions are relaxed.

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What is the travel guidance?

Glencoe Mountain, Nevis Range and Cairngorm Mountain are currently under Level 1 restrictions in the Highland council area, while The Lecht and Glenshee are in Level 2 in Aberdeenshire.

This means local people in the areas will be able to travel to the resorts for skiing, although the Scottish Government has advised that those in Level 1 and 2 areas should minimise unnecessary journeys between places in different levels.

And if you live in a Level 3 area, due to the current law, you are not permitted to travel to any other area unless for essential reasons, meaning a trip to enjoy the skiing conditions is off the cards for now.

The resorts will be hoping for travel restrictions to be eased so they can welcome visitors from across Scotland for the new winter season.

Trafford Wilson, of Snowsport Scotland, told the BBC that restricted travel was a concern for local ski resorts.

He said: "We are very hopeful an exemption could be made for the ski industry because of the contribution it makes to local economies, the significant jobs it brings and also the tourism it attracts."

What are the social distancing measures?

Each resort has said it will have measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and to protect both staff and customers.

Glencoe Mountain will be limiting skier numbers to ensure social distancing is possible by using ski-ticketing so people will have to pre-book before they visit.

Nevis Range will have temperature checks in place before visitors can use the gondola.

The Lecht is operating a takeaway cafe service only, and customers are asked to pre-book their equipment, with one household member collecting lift passes.

Cairngorm will have an online ticket system for advance bookings and ski hire in place.

Skiers there will also be advised to collect their skis the night before, while they should stick to household bubbles on the chairlifts and T-bars.

When will resorts in Europe open?

When ski resorts were open at the beginning of the pandemic, they were instrumental in allowing the virus to spread across Europe.

Now, France, Germany and Italy’s resorts will not open to the public over the festive period to stop infection rates increasing.

All resorts in Germany’s state of Bavaria have been closed until January.

And centres in both Italy and France will remain closed until 7 January, depending on the coronavirus situation then.

French president Emmanuel Macron said winter sport resorts in France would not be able to reopen before the end of the year to contain a second wave of cases there.

Are any resorts already open?

Elsewhere, in Switzerland and Austria, the ski resorts will be open this season.

Switzerland, not a member of the EU, has already opened resorts for domestic tourism, leading Austria and Germany to impose quarantine on their citizens returning from Swiss slopes.

However, while skiing is permitted, there will be no apres-ski, and masks are obligatory on all lifts.

Austria plans to reopen its ski slopes on Christmas Eve, but with tight restrictions.

Hotels and restaurants will stay closed, so a trip to the slopes will only be possible for locals who live close by.