Germany urges EU nations to close ski slopes over Christmas amid pandemic

Berlin (CNN) – As the crucial Christmas holiday season approaches, European relations are likely to change for the better.

Germany wants an EU-linked approach to keeping closed ski resorts in the Alpine countries to reduce the spread of coronavirus. However, an alliance with neighboring Austria shows difficulties, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

“We also urge our citizens to avoid unnecessary connections. This also means private travel, tourism. The ski season is approaching. We are trying to unite in Europe if we can close all ski resorts,” Merkel told lawmakers. in Austria it looks like we can’t do well, but we will try again. “

The Austrian slopes are due to open this year but the restrictions differ from other locations, according to the Austrian government. “Apres-ski” will be banned, however, and ski gondolas will no longer be available, he said.

Some valleys have already been opened for skiing in Switzerland, where it is not a member of the EU. Swedish resorts, which have recently enacted laws but have not enacted a law banning the country, are also open to skiing.

On Wednesday, the German state expanded to date December 20, the options being extended until January. Merkel has urged Germans to stay home for the summer.

“We have to say, unfortunately, that we cannot promise a reduction in Christmas and New Year,” he said Thursday, despite a gathering of up to 10 people, including children, expected to be allowed between December 23 and January 1.

“Christmas can be a safe time. We do not want the holiday season to be public,” Merkel said, adding that “it is up to each of us” to adhere to the rules.

Germany called on the federal government at a third meeting Wednesday to “work in Europe to ensure that space travel is not allowed on January 10.”

During the first outbreak of the coronavirus, hundreds of Covid-19 infections in Europe returned to the Austrian game reserve. Among them were many Germans who were infected at the Austrian ski resort in Ischgl.

Ischgl and its surrounding villages attract nearly 500,000 tourists every winter, with celebrities and politicians among them years ago.

Christian Bruna / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

Ischgl and its surrounding villages attract nearly 500,000 tourists every winter, with celebrities and politicians among them years ago.

Germany issued a travel warning last month to popular ski resorts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

Authorities in Germany’s largest province, Bavaria, announced Tuesday that its Alpine slope will be closed for the entire holiday season, due to the high incidence of coronavirus in Germany.

“We can’t have a high-ski vacation,” Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder said. “It would be worse if after the Christmas holidays the number of (illnesses) rises again because of celestial entertainment.”

Söder also warned that the EU should have a one-size-fits-all approach to the next skiing season: “If we want the borders to be open we need a close partnership on skiing. Otherwise things will get worse.”

The Austrian’s top player is showing resistance

Austria re-entered the second country on November 17, when schools, non-essential stores, hotels, restaurants, bars and pubs were closed until December 6. It is unclear how the expected promotion of December 7 will affect the competition season.

However, the Austrian Ministry of Finance expressed concern earlier this week over EU skiing, spokesman Felix Lamezan-Salins told CNN.

“Italy’s insistence on opening ski areas from January 10 could mean a loss of 500 million euros a week in Austria,” Lamezan-Salins said. He also said that Austria is where they go to store every second in the EU’s winter and that tourism represents about 15% of Austria’s GDP.

On Tuesday, Austrian Ministry of Finance Gernot Blümel said the plague was a serious threat to winter tourism and urged the EU to pay bribes if the slopes were forced to close during the Christmas holidays.

“If the European Union says that ski resorts should be closed, then it means two billion euros. If the EU really wants this, then it has to pay,” Blümel said.

“In Austria, we have been able to set up a reimbursement for all closed areas in a very short time. If a ski resort is to be closed, the EU will have to pay for the loss of skiing,” Blümel added.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced in September that the Austrian ski season would continue but said running parties would be banned.

Last month, the Austrian Experts Association criticized Kurz for claiming that the government had not done enough to prevent the deadly outbreak of coronavirus in Austria in March, while the majority of people infected with coronavirus fled the settlements of Ischgl and St. Petersburg. Anton – helping to spread the virus in Europe – was not accused of isolating himself.

‘We want to set a good example’

If EU countries are approaching the slope for Christmas, Switzerland can see visitors coming to its slopes, travel restrictions allow.

Switzerland’s highest point in Zermatt, overseen by the Matterhorn, is expected to welcome visitors.

“The future of winter is looking bright,” Zermatt Mayor Romy Biner-Hauser told CNN on Thursday.

Switzerland has done a lot to attract its visitors, he said. A new trend is the disruption among people in queues, the increasing number of cable cars, the wearing of masks on ski buses, trains, elevators and gondolas. There are no ski-apres in Switzerland at the moment and at the moment food is only in hotels. The restaurant can start from December 13th.

Switzerland's highest point in Zermatt, overseen by the Matterhorn, is expected to welcome visitors.

Switzerland’s highest point in Zermatt, overseen by the Matterhorn, is expected to welcome visitors.


“We want to move forward and be a good example of how things can work out, so that other restaurants can benefit from what we know,” Biner-Hauser said.

“It’s not just about skiing – winter vacations are also available for long walks or sledling. Winter holidays are available for people to recharge their batteries, get some sunlight, get some fresh air. People need a vacation and no mountains.”

Zermatt is a year-round resort but was closed earlier this year due to the epidemic.

“We have to live with the virus and life must go on,” said Biner-Hauser.

There is no ski in France at Christmas

Some EU countries are taking a similar approach to Germany’s call for an agreement before the holiday season.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed on Thursday that the country’s ski resort would not reopen skiing over the Christmas holidays, though he did not say what would happen in the New Year.

“In terms of ski resorts, we have considered the spread of the epidemic, as well as the fact that hospitals in the affected areas, especially in Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and Burgundy Franche-Comté, do not allow us to consider opening the Christmas season,” he told a news conference.

“But of course, it will be free for everyone to go to these places to enjoy the fresh air of our beautiful mountains. Shopping areas except bars and restaurants will be open. All ski skits and government areas will be open to the public.”

President Emmanuel Macron had warned on Tuesday, speaking of reducing the number of coronaviruses, saying it was unlikely that a winter shelter would be reopened for the Christmas holidays.

“It is very good to accept the reopening in January under the best of circumstances. We will agree on this point with our European counterparts,” he said.

Having a safe and effective vaccine is a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus. But there are many more difficult ways in the future – from mass production to global fertility – before vaccination takes place in the spread of the virus.

The first phase of the reduction is expected to begin on Saturday, when non-essential stores are allowed to reopen, as well as places of worship, with 30 people.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told LA7 on Wednesday that winter tourism was a “must-have-discussed Europe” issue and said he had already spoken to Merkel, Macron and European Council President Charles Michel.

“We all know that we will not allow selected holidays in the snow,” he said, as this could lead to a “third wave” of disease.

Conte argued that it was a “European problem” because if Italy decided to close its ski resort without the support of similar elections in Austria and France, Italian tourists could carry the Covid virus from their slopes.

CNN’s Nadine Schmidt wrote from Berlin and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. CNN’s Nada Bashir, Nicola Ruatolo, Stephanie Halasz, Pierre Bairin and Antonia Mortensen contributed to the report.

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