'People need mountains': Swiss ski resorts buck Alpine lockdowns
By Denis Balibouse ZERMATT, Switzerland (Reuters) - Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland's modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut. France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows
By Denis Balibouse
ZERMATT, Switzerland (Reuters) - Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland's modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut.
France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows.
Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fuelling the pandemic.
"If it's open, I'll definitely ski," said Swede Max Ahlstedt, on the glacier where Zermatt offers year-round skiing. "You just have to ... accept wearing a mask."
Over the border in Cervinia, on the Italian side of the glacier, the lifts have been closed indefinitely since Oct. 25.
Some Swiss resorts, including Davos to the northwest, boast of "cold-fogging" equipment to blast the interiors of gondolas and "kill 99.9% of viruses, bacteria and spores in a minute".
The Swiss tourism association has even adopted "Clean & Safe" as its motto in the hope of easing tourists' nerves.
And there is no denying the sense of release from confinement that a day on the slopes can bring.
"It'd be worse if you couldn't go to the mountains at all," said Anne Spiegler, a German living in Zurich.
Swiss skier Jean-Francois Paschoud said that it "makes you forget the mask measures".
Swiss resorts know that the number of guests from Britain, the Netherlands, Germany or Scandinavia will inevitably be far below the levels of a normal season as the wait for a vaccine stunts cross-border travel.
Other countries will be glad to start their winter tourist season at all.
In Austria, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier near Zell am See and the Hintertux glacier near Mayrhofen both hope to reopen on Dec. 6, the moment that a national lockdown ends - and to banish memories of an outbreak among visitors last February in the Tyrolean resort of Ischgl that spread coronavirus across Europe.
Zermatt Mayor Romy Biner-Hauser still thinks the future looks bright: "People need vacation," he says. "People need mountains."
(Writing by John Miller, reporting by Denis Balibouse in Zermatt and Cecile Mantovani in Geneva; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
By Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Hurricane Iota began whipping a remote coastal area of Nicaragua with catastrophic winds, storm surges and rain on Monday evening, as the region's leaders blamed climate change for destruction that is pushing millions closer to hunger. Iota was due to crash through northeastern Nicaragua's Miskito region overnight, packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour, having reached Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S
SAQQARA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt on Saturday showcased more than 100 coffins dating back 2,500 years, the latest and largest find this year in the vast burial ground of the Saqqara Necropolis. The 26th Dynasty coffins - sealed, finely painted and well-preserved - were of a higher quality than previous finds there, said the secretary-general of the supreme council of antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, suggesting they belonged to higher ranking families.
KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19, shortly after announcing the country had posted a record number of new cases in a single day. "This is a war, every day the virus takes the lives of Ukrainians," Stepanov told a televised briefing at which he said 12,524 new cases had been registered in the previous 24 hours, up from the record of 11,787 a day earlier