Ski season is fast approaching, and there still has yet to be a unified or clear response as to whether or not ski resorts across Europe will be open for this season.
While some Member States are wanting to open their ski resorts and allow people to enjoy the snow this winter, other Member States are contesting this idea due to concerns of COVID-19.
On the two opposing sides of the argument are countries with concerns of epidemiologic risk, and countries with concerns of further damage to their respective economies and the EU economy as a whole, as well as further damage to public morale after months of shutdowns and economic decline.
Germany is opposed to opening resorts.
Germany is the main proponent for keeping resorts shut this winter and is insistent that other Member States do the same thing.
“The ski season is approaching… We will try to reach an agreement in Europe on whether we could close all ski resorts,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said to the German Parliament.
Merkel is not the only German politician pushing a universal shutdown, however.
“I would prefer to have a common agreement on a European level: no ski lifts open, no holidays anywhere,” said Markus Söder, the Bavarian State Premiere.
France is opposed to ski resorts being open.
French President Emmanuel Macron also supports keeping resorts closed this winter, with shutdowns lasting until at least early 2021. The French Prime Minister Jean Castex added, however, that people can visit resorts in the French mountains, they would just be unable to ski.
Italy is opposed to opening resorts.
Italy is not only closing their own resorts, but like Germany, is insisting that other Member States close their resorts as well. This is due to fears that Italians might go to other Member States to ski and bring back COVID-19 to Italy.
“If Italy decided to shut down all its ski lifts without any support from France, Austria and the other countries, then Italian tourists would risk going abroad and taking the contagion back home,” Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte said.
Austria will allow their ski resorts to stay open.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has stated that other Member States’ efforts to shut down their ski resorts “exaggerated,” and that Austrian resorts will stay open this season.
If the country does shut down their resorts for the 2020/2021 season, they are projected by experts to lose up to €2 billion in revenue from winter tourism to the country.
Switzerland will allow their resorts to stay open.
Switzerland is allowing their resorts to stay open, while also keeping protections and safety rules in place for skiers. Guests will still be required to wear masks and practice social distancing while at the resorts.
“In Switzerland, we can go skiing, with protection plans in place,” Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said.
This is not an EU problem.
The issue has been brought to the European Commission, which has denied that this is an issue for the broader EU government to solve.
The statement from Brussels noted that “this is not a European competence,” meaning that the decision to open or stay closed will remain with national governments to decide for themselves.
Citizens of the UK will also no longer to be able to work in the ski resorts this winter without first obtaining special permissions. This is due to the deadline date for BREXIT being 31 December 2020, meaning that the United Kingdom will be classified as a third country from the start of 2021.