Germany’s more than seven million skiers form an important part of Austria’s ski industry, with many crossing the border on regular weekend trips. But Mr Söder said anyone crossing even one day would be subject to Germany’s quarantine regulations for travelers coming from high – risk areas that cover the whole of Austria.
For many, the ski season is seen as a critical test. Winter tourism generated 14.9 billion. Euro for Austria last year, according to government statistics, and authorities hope that one of the strictest shutdowns in Europe introduced this month will reduce the number of infections enough to guarantee a safe holiday season. Austria, which currently has one of the highest infection rates in Europe, is also ready to launch the continent̵
In France, where restrictions are gradually being lifted as of this weekend, authorities said ski resorts – but not ski lifts – were allowed to open. “Everyone is free to travel to resorts to enjoy the clean air of our beautiful mountains,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference Thursday.
The decision to keep the lifts closed has sown anger and confusion among tourists and ski professionals, who say the Christmas holiday season amounts to up to a quarter of the French industry’s annual turnover of 11 billion euros.
Cyprien Durand, head of ski instructors in the village of Megève, near the Swiss border, said professionals had been working for months to customize their resorts. He called the government’s decision “incoherent and destabilizing.”
“Like everyone else, we have learned from the first wave,” Durand said in a telephone interview. “Winter sports mean free air, and for the lifts we have done enough to ensure that social distance measures are complied with.”
Sir. Durand, who manages 360 ski instructors, said he and his colleagues would try to organize other activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.