Combining coronavirus, snow Y holidays from winter is on the way to stoking a row in the European Union (EU), with Germany and Austria as great adversaries to each other. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will try to reach a consensus on Brussels so that European ski resorts are closed until at least January 10 and thus avoid outbreaks of the Covid-19, as he said yesterday in an appearance in the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament). Neighboring Austria, heavily dependent on tourism
“If the EU really wants that, then it will have to pay,” the Austrian Finance Minister replied yesterday. Gernot Blümel, making it clear that the Alpine country will claim some type of compensation if that decision is made at the community level. Austria warned that continuing the current closure of the ski facilities would result in losses of € 2 billion. Their 250 alpine resorts They make a large part of their profits during the Christmas and New Years holidays, and German skiers account for half of the overnight stays in Austrian Tyrol.
France and Italy resign themselves to the impact of Covid on ski tourism, and aspire to a European closure
In Austria, a lockdown due to the second wave of the virus is in force until December 7, but the tracks plan to reopen in time for the Christmas holidays. On the other hand, France and Italy have already announced that their stations will not be put into operation and aspire to a coordinated European closure, while in Spain the Government is studying under what conditions the Spanish tracks could be opened.
“They can be difficult conversations, presumably in Europe it will not be possible to make uniform regulations”, admitted Merkel regarding skiing in her appearance in the Bundestag, dedicated to explaining to the deputies the anti-pandemic decisions agreed on Wednesday by the federal government and the presidents of the 16 länder. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz already said in the middle of this week that he considers it “exaggerated” for the EU to vote or rule on this matter, and that the Austrian stations will open. Austria fears that if the EU closes the tracks at EU level, the great beneficiary will be the extra-EU Switzerland, whose tracks could logically open.
At the press conference on Wednesday night, Angela Merkel had already urged Germans not to travel abroad for tourism during the winter holidays, referring specifically to skiing. Bavarian President Markus Söder, also present that night, insisted on the need to avoid groups of people at all costs. Already on Tuesday Söder had announced that the Bavarian ski slopes – whose lifts attract thousands of compatriots – will not reopen these festivals.
The German tourism industry insists that skiing, being an individual outdoor sport, does not present an added danger of contagion. Markus Söder explicitly alludes to the risk of a repeat of what happened last March in the Austrian station of Ischgl, where at the beginning of the pandemic thousands of tourists from all over Europe were infected, who later transported the virus to their respective countries, including Germany . That powerful outbreak of infections was also produced to a large extent by the nightlife of bars and drinks that surrounds the tourist activity in the stations.
The German plan to transfer to the EU the convenience of a European veto on skiing met yesterday the applause of the French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire.