French Court Confirms Closure of Ski Lifts as Date Set for January Opening
11th December 2020
Last modified on May 13th, 2021
The Council of State made its decision as the government says lifts may open on January 7th if conditions allow. Lifts will not be turning in the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Jura or the Massif Central over Xmas. Resorts are set to open on January 7th but strict criteria will need to be met and it remains uncertain. UPDATED
The Council of State said it took into account the very significant economic effects for the areas concerned in making its decision.
It noted that “the epidemic of covid-19 remains at a high level, which creates strong pressure on the health system, particularly in regions where winter sports are practiced”.
It also considered the additional pressures from large numbers of people travelling.
The legal case was always unlikely to succeed as we reported earlier:
The French government will allow ski resorts to reopen lifts on January 7th if the new coronavirus situation allows.
It is a big ‘if” as cases are continuing to rise despite the strict lockdown.
The Prime Minister Jean Castex met ski resort representatives on Friday.
The French Finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has said €400m will be on offer to help ski resorts forced to close for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The French government decided to close the lifts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the pressure on hospitals, Ski resorts in France set to remain closed in December.
By and large the resorts reacted with anger and there were a series of demonstrations and some intense lobbying:
They then went down the legal route and took their case to the Council of State.
Snowsports in France is a huge industry worth around €10 billion.
Xmas and New Year account for a quarter of that – €2.5 billion.
“Lifts are essential,” said Joel Aviragnet, a parliamentary member for the Haute-Garonne department bordering the Pyrenees.
Bloomberg reports him as saying “The economy of our valleys is fully dependent on the opening of the mountain resorts and the operation of lifts.”
In the Occitanie region, resorts will lose €200 million over the festive period if ski lifts are closed, he said.
However, cases of Covid-19 are rising, and it is even possible that the national lockdown will not end next week on December 15th as planned.
President Macron said daily cases need to be at 5,000.
On Thursday 10th December there were 13,750 daily cases.
Confirmed cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period is currently at 110 in France.
The rise in Covid-19 cases is falling, but not by nearly enough.
Some argue it is better to close resorts at Xmas and New Year, so that resorts can open properly in February, the high point of the winter ski season.
“We want to save the height of the season, which is notably around the holidays from February to March,” Junior Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said in response to parliamentary questions on Tuesday.
“Therefore, it’s necessary to postpone the start of the season.”