French Ski Resorts Face ‘Catastrophe’ As Other Nations Keep Slopes Open

French Ski Resorts Face ‘Catastrophe’ As Other Nations Keep Slopes Open.

A European dispute on the wisdom of opening ski resorts amid the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a battle, backed by Spain, and pitting France, Italy and Germany – whose slopes remain shut – against the defiant Alpine nations of Switzerland and Austria.

France’s flag still flutters above the entrance to Châtel’s town hall, but visitors to the Alpine resort in Haute-Savoie could be forgiven for thinking they had inadvertently slipped into Switzerland. Eclipsing the French tricolour, larger Swiss flags have adorned the municipal building since the weekend in protest at France’s decision to shut down ski lifts throughout the Christmas holidays while neighbouring Switzerland keeps its resorts running.

“The decision to close down was taken in a hurry and with no concertation,” rages the local mayor, Nicolas Rubin. “We were supposed to get a hearing with the government. Instead, they pulled the rug out from under us.”

To appease the likes of Rubin, the French government is mulling a seven-day isolation period for French nationals who travel abroad to ski during the Christmas holiday season. Speaking on BFM TV on Wednesday,  Prime Minister Jean Castex said random border checks could be imposed along the frontier with Switzerland. Similar controls are on the cards in the Pyrenees, with Spain also planning to reopen its resorts.

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Tony Winterburn

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