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State aid for France's ski resorts as lifts stay closed

Authorities refuse to speculate on possible reopening dates as school holidays loom

France's ski lifts will remain closed throughout February, the prime minister's office (Matignon) has confirmed following a meeting with industry officials.

In a blow for the winter tourism industry in France, with the start of the school holidays just days away, Matignon refused to set a possible reopening date.

"The evolution of the health situation does not allow us at this stage to reopen ski lifts," the prime minister's office said, confirming earlier reports, noting also that there was "no trend towards general reopening" in other European countries.

"We are in permanent daily and weekly management" and it is the figures on the evolution of the epidemic "which will dictate the continuation," the spokesman said.

Ski equipment shops and related businesses will be eligible for state aid from the Solidarity Fund and the Tourism Plan, to overcome the "unprecedented shock" of the health crisis, Matignon announced.

This fund pays compensation of 20% of turnover, up to a limit of €200,000, to companies indirectly affected by administrative closures linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, if they have lost 70% of their turnover business.

The Secretary of State for Tourism reiterated that there was 'to date, no restriction' on families living in France travelling to ski resorts during the winter holidays, which begin on Saturday for pupils at schools in Zone A. 

He said that, while alpine skiing may be impossible because of the closure of ski lifts, other winter activities - including snowshoeing, sledding, or cross-country skiing - are still possible.

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