Two neighbouring countries to impose new restrictions
The state of health emergency is expected to be extended until June, implying that the ski season could be lost this year. The catering industry is doomed to the same fate with little hope for reopening before Easter. The country s north-eastern neighbour is also considering tougher restrictions, including a ban on foreign travel.
The lower house of the French parliament decided to uphold the current restrictions. Lawmakers voted to extend the state of health emergency until 1 June with 113 votes in favour, 43 against and 4 abstentions, as the country s pandemic situation does not seem to be improving fast enough.
According to Health Minister Olivier Veran, the number of new cases is still high and, once again, the disease appears to be spreading faster. The bill will be submitted to the Senate for a first reading on Wednesday, 27 January, and French MPs must vote on its adoption by 16 February, the news portal 20 minutes reports.
Prospects are grim for French ski resort operators and caterers, with little hope for reopening. Ski resorts will not be allowed to reopen on 1 February and they could lose the entire season, according to a statement by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the state secretary in charge of tourism. As regards the catering sector, bars, cafes and restaurants may only receive guests again after Easter, on 6 April the earliest, according to a piece by the political weekly Le Point, which cited sources close to the government.
Speaking about French ski resorts, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL.fr that the government would not like to take a risk with people s health and the economy, so ski resorts are unlikely to be granted permission to reopen this season. He added that ski resort operators would receive financial compensation from the government for their lost revenues.
Although Belgium has recently experienced a drop in terms of new illnesses, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is concerned that the easing of restrictions would result in an upward trend, so he decided to ban all non-essential foreign trips. He announced in a recent TV show that the EU will propose a ban at the upcoming summit.
Les personnes qui voyagent font circuler avec elles le virus. Il doit donc être possible d empêcher, temporairement et de manière très ciblée, les voyages qui ne sont pas essentiels. pic.twitter.com/OCFOjPhOX2
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) January 20, 2021
According to RTL.be, the proposal is also supported by Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon and Wouter Beke, Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health, Family and Poverty Reduction.