'Avoid a second Ischgl': Bavaria urges ski slopes to close across Europe over winter break
The premier of Bavaria on Tuesday said he planned to keep the Alpine slopes of his German state shut over the Christmas holidays to combat Covid-19 and urged European nations to follow suit.
"We just can't have the classic ski holiday," Markus Söder told reporters on the eve of crunch talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders on extending coronavirus restrictions.
Like other European countries, Germany is battling a second coronavirus wave and Söder said more needed to be done to bring down infection numbers.
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Many German and foreign holidaymakers flock to Bavaria and neighbouring Austria over the winter break to enjoy its pristine ski slopes.
Söder stressed that Germans thinking of simply crossing the border to ski on Austrian snow instead faced a 10-day quarantine upon return, since Austria is classed as a coronavirus risk zone.
"I would prefer to have a common agreement on a European level: no ski lifts open, no (ski) holidays anywhere," said Söder, who has won praise for his handling of the pandemic so far and is often tipped as a possible chancellor candidate.
"If we want to keep the borders open we need a clear agreement on skiing. Otherwise things will get difficult."
The goal, said Söder, was to avoid "a second Ischgl".
The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl gained notoriety earlier this year after it became an early Covid-19 hotspot and infected tourists there helped spread the virus across Europe.