Hundreds of British tourists were forced into quarantine in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier fleeing at night rather than watching their holiday go downhill, the municipality said on Sunday.
About 200 of the approximately 420 affected British tourists in the luxury alpine ski station ended in darkness, the newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported.
Switzerland’s ski resorts would grow with snow-seeking British tourists – but a flight ban due to the new Covid-19 variant that crashed in England put those plans on hold.
The drastic decision by the Swiss government also included a 10-day retroactive quarantine for everyone who arrived from the UK since December 14 after the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus that experts fear is spreading faster.
Some of the British tourists affected by Verbier left immediately, while others endured a little before stopping.
“Many of them were quarantined one day before leaving unnoticed in the dark,” Jean-Marc Sandoz, a spokesman for the wider Bagnes municipality, told SZ.
He called the whole situation “the worst week our society has ever experienced”.
British tourists normally make up 21 percent of Verbier’s clientele, and most start pouring in shortly after Christmas.
Verbier has been named Switzerland’s best ski resort for the past two years and offers “adrenaline-filled excitement, simple pleasures and an elegant lifestyle”.
Verbier’s Tourist Office has held daily crisis cell meetings to try to deal with the ever-changing coronavirus picture.
“It was when they saw that the food compartments remained untouched that hotel owners noticed that customers had left,” Sandoz told ATS news agency.
He said that according to a Saturday survey of the ski resort’s hotels, less than ten people would still be in quarantine.
The rest would either have left or the quarantine period would have expired.
“We can not blame them. In most cases, quarantine was untenable. Imagine four people living in a hotel room of 20 square meters, says Sandoz.
He said that the tourists went and felt “a little angry at Switzerland” and with the feeling of having been “caught”.
The flight between Switzerland and the two countries was stopped on Monday, but the first departing flights from Zurich to the UK resumed on Thursday.
Two cases of the new British coronavirus variant have been discovered in Switzerland and one in neighboring Liechtenstein, the Swiss Ministry of Health said on Sunday.
Two cases of the new South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, have also been detected, the ministry said.