MADRID, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Some Spanish ski stations, including exclusive Baqueira Beret favoured by the royal family, are set to open from next week while observing nationwide coronavirus restrictions.
Ski resorts have become a divisive issue in Europe as some countries like France, Germany and Italy have shut them after some ski stations became COVID-19 breeding grounds last winter, helping the early spread of the illness in Europe.
Privately owned Baqueira Beret, in the Pyrenees near the French border, said on its website it will open on Monday, though it will limit the number of skiers to guarantee social distance.
“The starting shot of the winter 2020-2021 will be fired on December 14,” the resort said on Friday.
Spain’s Sierra Nevada resort in Andalusia said it will open to skiers next Friday.
Switzerland has said it will open its ski resorts.
Austria announced this month that skiing will be allowed from Dec. 24. But Austrian hotels will stay closed until Jan. 7 and visits from abroad will likely be much reduced given quarantine requirements for people from countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 - which include Germany, France and Italy.
Austria’s Ischgl resort was seen as a virus hotspot last winter.
Pyrenean microstate Andorra, whose economy relies heavily on winter sports, has not set a date yet for opening resorts but it will not be before January.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said after ordering resorts in his country closed that police would make random border checks to prevent people leaving the country to go skiing in neighbouring countries.
Castex said after meeting with ski station representatives on Friday that the government was considering opening the resorts from Jan. 7.
Spain’s Aragon region, which also borders France, has not decided when - or if - the slopes will open before Christmas.
Ski workers in Aragon plan a protest on Saturday to press their regional government, saying they will form a giant SOS Snow to try to rescue their jobs. (Reporting by Inti Landauro and Graham Keeley Editing by Frances Kerry)
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