Scottish ski centres open despite virus outbreak

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Snowsports at Cairngorm MountainImage source, PETER JOLLY NORTHPIX
Image caption,
Snowsports enthusiasts at Cairngorm Mountain

Scotland's five mountain snowsports centres are open but precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Nevis Range, the Lecht, Glenshee, Glencoe Mountain and Cairngorm Mountain have benefited from recent snowfalls and low temperatures.

Increased cleaning and limiting ticket sales have been among the measures taken to reduce coronavirus risks.

Cafes have also been closed and social distancing encouraged.

People who suspect they have the virus have been asked not to visit.

The snowsports centres have been operating in recent weeks when the weather has allowed, with high winds the most common reason for sites not opening.

Image source, Nevis Range Mountain Experience
Image caption,
There have been snowfalls since February, the month when this picture was taken at Nevis Range

Pieter du Pon, director of the Lecht Ski Company Ltd, said they planned to keep the centre open as long as possible and as long as demand was there. The Lecht was aiming to end the season on 20 April.

He said: "We are trying to stay open and to keep our staff employed.

"I am also sure there will be parents looking for things to do with children now off school where at least they can all arrive in their own car, walk a very short distance to the slopes and generally be out in the open air enjoying themselves."

Andy Meldrum, of Glencoe Mountain, said the centre would remain open until the government advice was for it to close.

He said: "Lots of additional measures are in place from following an even stricter cleaning regime than normal, limiting ski hire and ensuring our cafe only does takeaway food, and also allowing individuals to go on the chairlift and T-bars single if they are not part of a family group."

Mr Meldrum added: "It's been like a normal midweek day with lots of students, seniors, emergency services and armed forces personnel in attendance."

Mountaineering Scotland, a group representing the interests of outdoor sports enthusiasts, said people could still enjoy hillwalking, climbing and skiing while maintaining social distancing.

But the organisation has urged people not to take unnecessary risks and has echoed Scottish Mountain Rescue's advice that people stick to "safe" and "familiar" terrain.