Italy won’t open its ski slopes due to virus fears

 The Italian government has abruptly delayed opening Italy’s beloved ski season because a coronavirus variant was detected in a good portion of recently infected persons in the country

A ministry statement noted that analyses of virus samples indicated that a variant first found in Britain is sickening 17.8% of recently infected people in Italy.

France and Germany have adopted similar measures in the ski sector due to the “worry for the spread of this and other variants of the virus,” the statement said.

The ski industry swiftly lamented that they have repeatedly prepared slopes and lifts, only to have been denied permission to open, including just before the year-end holidays.

The day-old government of Premier Mario Draghi promised to quickly compensate the sector for economic losses.

Italy, with over 93,000 confirmed virus deaths, has Europe’s second-highest known death toll in the pandemic after Britain.

The president of the Italian Winter Sports Federation, Flavio Roda, slammed the last-minute timing of the decision.

“The (ski) stations have invested a lot to prepare the slopes, hire personnel, get organized with hoteliers. A lot of money was invested and yet again our world is heavily penalized,” he said.

On Saturday, Speranza signed another ordinance, requiring anyone arriving from Austria, Italy’s neighbor to the north, to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine themselves after entering Italy. That ordinance cited the circulation in Austria of a variant found in South Africa.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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