Should skiing holidays be banned over Christmas?
Berlin, Paris and Rome want to keep all ski areas in the EU closed until January 10 in a bid to limit the Covid infection rates. Vienna opposes the idea saying it does not want to further damage the sector, which generates an annual turnover running into the billions, even though it played a key role in the spread of the virus across Europe at the beginning of the pandemic. For some commentators, there is more to the dispute than the fear of Covid.
Fresh mountain air instead of centralism
The Tages-Anzeiger does not see the point of a standardised solution:
“Giuseppe Conte, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are wrong to let themselves be driven by their centralistic fear instinct. A cross-border ski lockdown would have the advantage of uniformity - the opposite of the much lamented pandemic 'patchwork rugs'. But it would not be understood, especially not in those places where the infection rates are low and the measures to ensure Covid-safe ski operation are already rigorous. ... With their quarantine rules the governments also have control over who goes on holiday and where. But anyone who has the opportunity to soak up the sun and air in the mountains after nine months of lockdown and slowdown will be grateful. And express their gratitude by meticulously observing the Covid rules.”
A clumsy diversionary tactic
The Germans should bring the pandemic under control at home before criticising others for the measures they introduce, says Der Standard:
“While Austria is once again thinking about easing the restrictions, the Germans are having to extend and tighten them because the curve is not going down. ... Now Söder and Merkel, who both belong to the strict faction, are portraying Austria's desire for normal ski holidays as absurd and dangerous. That's understandable - on the one hand. The 'Ischgl reflex' is firmly anchored in Germany. ... There, Ischgl stands for failure, for drunken chalet parties without a thought for the next day. ... If the Germans now want to push Brussels in the direction of a Europe-wide closure of ski resorts, one gets the feeling that someone is trying to divert attention from their own problems.”
Vienna submitting to ski tourism sector
Austria would be both irresponsible and display a lack of solidarity if its refuses to go along with a pan-European skiing lockdown until January, the Süddeutsche Zeitung criticises:
“Irresponsible because we still have no reliable knowledge about how much risk of contagion there is at ski resorts during peak season. ... What's more, refusing to help find an EU-wide solution on ski resorts would show a lack of solidarity, because in this crisis sacrifices are required of every company and every destination between Venice and the North Sea. Yet now the ski industry, which is practically sacred in many parts of the Alps, is to be spared? ... It looks very much as if Vienna is giving in to the interests of the ski tourism sector.”
Join forces against Merkel!
Trud is outraged by Germany's initiative:
“As if it weren't enough for pseudo-conservationists to be hindering the development of Bulgaria's winter sports tourism, politicians are now busy trying to destroy the little that still functions and brings in money, not just in Bulgaria but across Europe. ... Germany now holds the EU Presidency. But that doesn't mean we have to agree with everything that the oh-so-great leaders of the European Union have to say. Perhaps it's time we formed a united front against such ideas. Austria will certainly support us, and why not countries like France, Italy, Slovenia, Romania and the Czech Republic too?”
The snow must go on
While the EU argues, Switzerland is rejoicing, La Stampa remarks:
“After all, where will the die-hard skiers go skiing if the slopes in Italy remain closed until Epiphany? Because Switzerland is not part of the EU, it could be the most sought-after destination. Provided it is possible to cross the border, that is. There, the cable cars are on a par with public transport, so there is no danger of them stopping: the snow must go on. …. From Andermatt to St. Moritz, people are already rubbing their hands, and certainly not because of frosty temperatures.”