Hundreds of British tourists forced into quarantine at a Swiss ski resort have fled in the night rather than seeing their holidays go downhill.
Staff at the luxury Verbier resort, known as ‘Little London’ for its popularity with British tourists, began to realise guests were missing after trays of food left outside their rooms remained untouched.
A spokesman for the Bagnes municipality in the canton of Valais, where the resort is located, said roughly 420 Brits were ordered into quarantine before Christmas.
About 50 fled immediately, Jean-Marc Sandoz told local newspaper SonntagsZeitung, while less than a dozen of the 370 others were still at the resort as of Sunday.
With flights cancelled, it was unclear where the tourists had escaped to though Swiss authorities said on Sunday that some had emerged in France, according to
Hundreds of British tourists forced into quarantine in a Swiss ski resort fled in the night rather than seeing their holidays go downhill
Switzerland’s ski resorts were set to boom with snow-seeking British tourists – but a flight ban due to the new
The ruling by the Swiss government also included a 10-day retroactive quarantine for anyone who arrived from the UK since December 14, following the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus which experts fear spreads much more quickly.
Dozens of other countries introduced similar flight bans in response to the new variant, which has spread to several other countries in Europe.
Switzerland’s ski resorts were set to boom with snow-seeking British tourists – but a flight ban due to the new Covid-19 variant raging in England put those plans on ice
Municipal spokesman Sandoz said many of the Verbier resort’s British guests ‘stayed in quarantine for a day before they set off unnoticed under the cover of darkness’.
‘It was when they saw the meal trays remained untouched that the hoteliers noticed that the customers had gone,’ Sandoz told ATS news agency. Calls to rooms had also gone unanswered.
Some later contacted their hotels to find out whether they still had to pay for the nights they’d booked,
Sandoz said that according to a Saturday survey of the ski resort’s hotels, fewer than 10 people would still be in quarantine.
The rest would either have left or their quarantine time would have expired.
‘We can’t blame them. In most cases, quarantine was untenable. Imagine four people staying in a hotel room of 20 square metres,’ Sandoz said.
He said the tourists left feeling ‘a little angry with Switzerland’ and with the sense of having been ‘trapped’.
The drastic ruling by the Swiss government included a 10-day retroactive quarantine for anyone who arrived from Britain since December 14
Sandoz called the whole situation ‘the worst week our community has ever experienced’.
British tourists normally make up 21 per cent of the Verbier clientele, and most start pouring in just after Christmas.
Voted Switzerland’s best ski resort for the last two years, Verbier markets itself as offering ‘adrenaline-packed thrills, simple pleasures and a chic lifestyle’.
The Verbier Tourist Office has been holding daily crisis cell meetings to try to deal with the ever-changing coronavirus picture.
The resort hit the headlines in early December after visitors shared photos of dense crowds waiting on ski lifts. No one appeared to be wearing a mask or practising social distancing.
British tourists normally make up 21 per cent of the Verbier clientele, and most start pouring in just after Christmas
Flights between Switzerland and the two countries were halted on Monday, but the first outbound flights from Zurich to Britain resumed on Thursday.
Two cases of the new British coronavirus variant have been detected in Switzerland and one in neighbouring Liechtenstein, the Swiss health ministry said on Sunday.
Two cases of the new South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, have also been detected, the ministry said.
At least 92 flights went from the UK to Switzerland between December 14 and 20, bringing some 10,000 Brits into the country, German news site
The Swiss Government obtained the passenger lists from each flight in order to track down the tourists, the website said.
It also persuaded telecommunications companies to send texts to everyone with a UK or South African SIM card, notifying them of the need to quarantine.