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Germany asks Alpine countries to close ski resorts amid pandemic

Germany asks Alpine countries to close ski resorts amid pandemic
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that Germany wants European countries in the Alpine region to keep ski resorts closed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Many Germans contracted the coronavirus at ski resorts during the beginning of the pandemic, according to Reuters, and last month Germany issued travel warnings for ski regions in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

The chancellor told parliament that Austria may resist such calls, but that Germany would persist in trying to instate the restrictions.

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“The ski season is approaching. We will be trying to coordinate in Europe whether we could close all ski resorts,” Merkel said, according to Reuters. 

Austria is currently under a national lockdown which is set to be lifted on Dec. 7.

Reuters noted that the country has been unenthusiastic about coronavirus rules that have become common throughout most of Europe.

Merkel's concerns follow those of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who earlier this week warned people against skiing this holiday season as Italy battles a second surge of coronavirus cases.

Both Germany and Italy recently went under a second round of national lockdowns.

According to Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel, if the European Union (EU) forces the ski sector to shut down, 2 billion euros could be lost. Bluemel argued the EU should pay for this financial loss.

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Reuters noted that Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, has allowed ski slopes to operate by normal standards for the most part.

Germany announced on Wednesday that its current coronavirus lockdown would be extended and tightened until Dec. 20, easing rules around Christmas to allow families to get together.

Germany has reported 980,000 coronavirus cases and over 15,000 deaths thus far. Like most of Europe and the U.S., Germany has seen an extreme surge in cases since the fall.