Hundreds of British tourists flee Swiss ski resort to avoid COVID quarantine

It’s all downhill from here.

More than 400 British tourists fled from a Swiss ski resort rather to evade a quarantine order requiring them to stay inside for 10 days before hitting the slopes, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The skiers were ordered to isolate themselves in their rooms at Verbier in Valais Canton under federal orders after the UK announced it was grappling with a more contagious mutation of the coronavirus that has since spread around the world.

But on Sunday, hoteliers told officials that many guests were not answering the phone in their room or eating breakfast served on trays outside their door.

Authorities found that less than a dozen of the 420 British skiers ordered to quarantine remained in their rooms at the pricey resort.

Switzerland banned flights from the UK on Dec. 20, and instituted a retroactive 10-day quarantine for those who had been in the country since Dec. 14. On Christmas Eve, officials said Britons could return home if they took special measures to inform local authorities of their mode of transport.

Local officials have been accused of not doing enough to enforce the quarantine — a charge regional leaders dispute, the Telegraph reports.

“Some guests left by car and are now in quarantine in the UK,” Christophe Darbellay, the president of the Valais government told the paper. “There is a sense of personal responsibility. You can travel all over Europe without having to identify yourself. The border is a sieve.”

Darbellay passed the blame onto the Federal Office of Public Health, saying passenger information was delivered too late, making enforcement “unnecessarily difficult.”

Tourism workers say enforcing the regulations was confusing, in part due to inconsistent information from the state.

“It was a drip, drip of information that we had and we informed tourists about the rules as best we could,” Simon Wiget, the director of the Verbier Tourist Office told the Telegraph.  

“We identified about 350 people but maybe there were 500 people if all the second home-owners and private chalet guests were included, it was impossible to be sure. Maybe a few people might have thought they were escaping, but I think the vast majority would have believed they were acting within the law and responsibly.

“People are basically honest and they don’t break the law on purpose. It’s all very confusing, even for us,” Wiget said.

Anyone caught breaking the quarantine is subject to an $11,000 fine.

The FOPH pushed back, saying it supplied local officials with passenger information from all flights from the UK, according to the Telegraph.


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