President Emmanuel Macron said France will take measures to prevent skiers from avoiding local virus restrictions and hitting the slopes in other countries during the Christmas holidays.
Downhill skiing in France has been effectively banned to help contain the spread of Covid-19, after the government said last week that ski lifts would remain closed until January, even if resorts could operate otherwise.
In neighboring Switzerland, the slopes are clear and invite French winter sports enthusiasts to cross the border from December 15 when the current partial isolation is lifted.
“If there are countries that keep resorts open, there will be controls to deter the French,” Macron said at a press conference. He said this was to avoid “creating a situation where there was an imbalance with the stations in France”.
Non-EU Switzerland, despite its strong ties to the bloc, ignored the disappointing calls by French officials to line up.
“We can go skiing in Switzerland with conservation plans,” said Alain Berset, the Swiss health minister last week.
France’s ski resorts stood up on the ban and said weeks like Christmas and New Year are crucial to their survival, as they make up a quarter of their annual income.
France’s winter sports industry says it generates 11 billion Euros ($ 13 billion) annually in revenue and employs 120,000 people during the season.