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Skiing is a popular pastime for Britons with more than 1.5 million UK residents undertaking at least one ski holiday each year. A further two million UK residents ski every few two or three years. But with the coronavirus pandemic affecting countries around the world and the virus flourishing in cold climates, can you go skiing this winter?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for all EU ski resorts to be closed until January 10.
Several ski resorts across Europe are on standby while European leaders endeavour to reach an agreement about whether to ban ski holidays over the Christmas and New Year periods.
Many EU leaders, including the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are in favour of closing winter sports until January 10 to limit the spread of coronavirus.
However, resorts in Austria and Switzerland are against taking this step.
The Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel has said if the EU wishes to close the sector, he would cost the Austrian economy £1.8bn (€2bn).
Can you go skiing this winter?
Skiing is possible this winter, depending on where you intend to go skiing.
In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it was “not a matter in which the EU should interfere”.
The country is currently in lockdown and this lockdown will end on Sunday, December 6.
Ski resorts are currently expected to reopen from that time, as long as they adhere to Covid-secure procedures.
Many ski resorts in Austria are hoping to reopen from December 19, however, many have already opened but have been closed to the general public due to the current lockdown restrictions.
Authorities in Austria have warned full closure is possible, but have demanded compensation from the EU for this enforced closure.
In France, many resorts intend to reopen on December 19.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, however, said that the country’s ski resorts would not reopen for skiing over the Christmas holidays
Mr Castex has not specified what would happen for the New Year.
The country said it is committed to making a decision for its resorts in the middle of this week.
Skiing is an important industry in France, where there are more than 300 ski resorts providing work for 120,000 people, of which around 40,000 are seasonal.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been keen to emphasise the risk ski resorts pose to the spread of coronavirus.
Ms Merkel said: “The ski season is approaching. We are trying to come to an agreement in Europe on whether we manage to close down all ski resorts.”
She added: “Unfortunately… when we hear from Austria it does not seem we can succeed easily, but we will try once again.”
German regions are calling on the Government to ensure ski tourism is banned until January 10.
Resorts in Bavaria have already said that skiing will not be permitted in December.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said it is not possible “to allow holidays on the snow. We cannot afford it”.
Mr Conte added: “Everything that revolves around holidays on the snow is uncontrollable.”
Italy is currently under lockdown rules which will come to an end on December 3.
Italian authorities are keen to keep ski resorts closed and are calling on compensation from the EU to keep resorts closed.
The Swiss Government is not in the European Union and therefore is not compelled to follow any mandates it may set in regards to ski resorts.
The President of Switzerland Simonetta Sommaruga said she is hopeful the Swiss population will help to ensure the winter is “successful”.
Ski resorts across Switzerland remain open and several Covid-secure measures have been put into place to avoid spreading coronavirus.
Real decisions regarding Swiss ski resorts will be made at a federal level in Bern.
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