More than seven million skiers in Germany make up a significant part of the Austrian ski industry, many of whom cross the border on regular day trips over the weekend. But Mr Söder said anyone passing through even for one day would be subject to German quarantine regulations for passengers coming from high-risk areas, which includes the whole of Austria.
For many, the ski season is seen as a critical test. Winter tourism generated 14.9 billion euros for Austria last year, according to government statistics, and authorities hope that one of the strictest conclusions in Europe, introduced this month, will reduce the number of infections enough to ensure a safe holiday season. Austria, which currently has one of the highest levels of infection in Europe, is also set to launch the continent̵
In France, where restrictions are being lifted this weekend, authorities have said ski resorts, but not ski lifts, will have the right to open. “Everyone is free to travel to resorts to enjoy the fresh air of our beautiful mountains,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference on Thursday.
The decision to keep the lifts closed breeds anger and confusion among tourism and ski experts, who say the Christmas holiday season accounts for a quarter of French industry’s annual revenue of $ 11 billion.
Cyprian Duran, head of ski instructors in the village of Megev, near the Swiss border, said professionals had worked for months to adapt their resorts. He called the government’s decision “inconsistent and destabilizing”.
“Like everyone else, we learned from the first wave,” Mr Durand said in a telephone interview. “Winter sports mean openness, and we have done enough for lifts to ensure that social distancing measures are respected.”
Mr Durand, who runs 360 ski instructors, said he and his colleagues would try to organize other activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.