The President of France yesterday announced measures to prevent citizens from hopping the border to access open ski resorts in neighboring countries, as Europe continues to struggle in the fight against covid-19. The French government is considering mandatory virus tests and a seven-day quarantine for French citizens who return from a ski trip in a neighboring European country during the Christmas break. Random checks would take place along the international borders.
“If there are countries, within or outside the EU, that keep their ski resorts open, we’ll put in place control measures to deter our citizens from going to areas where we think there is a risk of infection.”
– President Macron
President Macron confirmed that ski resorts would open on December 15th, but that lifts would not be allowed to spin during the holiday period. Neighboring Switzerland has continued to let its ski resorts operate. Austria today announced that their resorts would be allowed to operate from December 24th, causing concern for French officials that citizens will head to these open resorts.
Both France and Germany have called for a continent-wide ban on skiing over Christmas but face strong opposition from Austria. Italy and Spain have yet to make a decision. Switzerland, which is not an EU member, has ignored the pleas and continues to allow its ski resorts to operate.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization urged European countries to consider the coming ski season risks, advising against non-essential travel. While skiing itself can be socially distanced, the dangers of airport crowds, restaurants, and gondolas, and lift lines should all be causes for concern. German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed these sentiments, calling for all European leaders to shut their ski resorts until after the holiday period.
- Related: The WHO Urges Ski Countries to Consider the Risks Carefully Before Allowing Resorts to Open
Ski resorts across France have begun protesting against the decision to keep lifts closed over the holiday period, typically one of their busiest times of the year. Areas home to Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, La Grave, Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, and those in Les 3 Vallées are unhappy with the government. More than 600 people demonstrated in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, and an estimated 1,200 people attended a protest in Bourg d’Oisans.