Germany urges Europe to close ski resorts ahead of holiday season

Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada but will ski resorts in Spain open this year

Germany is making efforts to secure an agreement with European Union countries to keep ski resorts closed at least until early January, France has closed all resorts until the New Year and the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, is demanding that the European Union present a coordinated and united policy, but on the other hand Austria has announced that not only will its resorts be open at Christmas but the frontiers will also be open to allow skiers into the country.

PASSO DEL TONALE, Italy, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Europe's ski resorts are desperately trying to salvage the new season amid the pandemic, but travel restrictions, the need for social distancing and disagreement among governments about whether to open at all mean they have a mountain to climb. She admits, however, that striking a deal will be hard given resistance from Austria, a skiing hotspot.

"I will say this openly that it won't be easy, but we will try", Chancellor Angela Merkel said after speaking to Germany's regional leaders on Tuesday. In Austria alone, the Finance Ministry estimates that revenue from ski resorts is worth roughly 800 million euros a week.

But there is clear disunity in the ranks of Alpine countries.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has asked Italians to stay home during the holiday season and placed restrictions on ski resort operations but said if neighboring countries don't do similarly their measures won't have much effect.

During the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, clusters were connected to ski resorts.

Austria's government is already facing legal action over the Ischgl ski village, which was linked to cases in 45 countries after skiers brought the virus home with them.

"It will not be possible to allow holidays on the snow this year, we can not afford it", he said.

Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany's 16 federal states late on Wednesday to extend and tighten a coronavirus lockdown until december 20, but ease rules over the Christmas holidays to let families and friends celebrate together.

Markus Söder, the powerful prime minister of Bavaria, said after the meeting that the point was not "to forbid all fun and pleasure from skiing".

"No one believes in a 20% fall (in Austrian revenues) anymore", said Oliver Fritz, senior economist at Austrian economic think-tank Wifo. Mr Söder added that even the head of Austria's medical association had warned of the risks. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article.



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