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Germany Extends Strict Lockdown Measures With Eye Towards Reopening Ski Slopes

Germany extended its coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, after cases continued to surge in the country.
Germany extended its coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, after cases continued to surge in the country.

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week.

The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed.

Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt.

The overall restrictions are set to continue until Dec. 20, but it's expected, with the continued surge in infections, that these rules will stay in place until early January, Merkel said.

Germany reported its highest-ever daily COVID-19 death total Wednesday, according to U.S. News & World Report. Johns Hopkins University reports Germany has 995,879 total confirmed cases as of Thursday morning.

But Germany's leaders are holding out hope that the region's popular, and lucrative, ski season can be salvaged.

Merkel said Germany is trying to make a deal with other European Union countries to keep all ski slopes closed until early January, in an attempt to minimize the spread of the disease.

"I will say this openly that it won't be easy, but we will try," Merkel said, according to the BBC.

Austrian ski resort Ischgl became a coronavirus hot spot earlier this year after several tourists brought the virus back to 45 countries.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images
Austrian ski resort Ischgl became a coronavirus hot spot earlier this year after several tourists brought the virus back to 45 countries.

Ski slopes in Germany and other European nations have postponed their start dates indefinitely due to current lockdowns.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agree that a European Union-coordinated approach to reopening the slopes is a necessity.

"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," Conte said.

Ski resorts have been proven to pose a serious health risk during the pandemic.

The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl earlier this year became a coronavirus hotspot with infected tourists going on to spread the virus to 45 countries.

However, Austria — where the skiing industry employs some 700,000 people — is not on board with the plan to coordinate resort openings. Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said that if a ski ban is place on the whole region, it would need two billion euros or more of aid from the EU.

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