Europe bans Xmas ski season

Source: AFP Published: 2020/11/26 16:23:42

Virus continues to ravage as winter snow approaches

A doctor (center) from Doctors for Human Rights performs a temperature scanning on a homeless man at the Tiburtina train station in Rome, Italy on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Germany announced Wednesday that it will push for Europe to ban ski holidays in a bid to curb coronavirus infections, while cases of COVID-19 reached a new peak of more than 60 million globally.

The prospect of Christmas behind closed doors rather than on the slopes stretched before Europeans as Americans faced their own gloom, recording the highest daily death toll from the virus in six months on the eve of a subdued Thanksgiving holiday.

US President-elect Joe Biden cited accelerating plans to deliver a vaccine as he appealed for his "weary" countrymen to dig deep, with COVID-19 surging around the country.

"There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue," Biden said in a televised Thanksgiving address.

"You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever."

Biden spoke as a tally of official sources compiled by AFP showed that more than 60 million infections leading to 1.4 million deaths have been recorded around the world since the novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019.

The number of infections - roughly equivalent to the population of Italy - likely only reflects a fraction of the actual total, as many countries lack testing capacity.

Rising cases have seen countries around the world impose new restrictions in recent weeks, though some - such as France and the UK - have begun cautiously opening back up again.

Germany, however, announced Wednesday that it will extend its virus curbs until 2021 and plans to seek a deal with European partners to close ski slopes until January 10. 

The statement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel dovetailed with French plans announced one day earlier to shutter ski resorts through 2020's end. 

Infected tourists at ski resorts helped spread the coronavirus across Europe in earlier 2020.

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

The move put Berlin and Paris on a collision course with resort operators and holiday hot spot Austria ahead of the crucial Christmas season.



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