Europe's Christmas Ski Season Threatened By Virus As Cases Pass 60 Mn
Umer Jamshaid 2 months ago Thu 26th November 2020 | 08:50 AM
Berlin, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Nov, 2020 ) :Germany announced Wednesday that it will push for Europe to ban ski holidays in a bid to curb coronavirus infections, while cases of Covid-19 reached a new peak of more than 60 million globally.
The prospect of a cold, dark Christmas behind closed doors without the classic fresh air-filled sojourn on the slopes stretched before Europeans as Americans faced their own holiday gloom on the eve of a subdued Thanksgiving.
US President-elect Joe Biden cited accelerating plans to deliver a vaccine as he appealed for his "weary" countrymen to dig deep.
"There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don't let yourself surrender to the fatigue," Biden said in a televised Thanksgiving address.
"You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever." Biden spoke as a tally of official sources compiled by AFP showed that 60,014,291 infections leading to 1,415,258 deaths have been recorded around the world since the new coronavirus emerged in China late last year.
The number of infections -- roughly equivalent to the population of Italy -- likely only reflects a fraction of the actual total, as many countries lack testing capacity.
Germany, however, announced Wednesday that it will extend its virus curbs until 2021 and plans to seek a deal with European partners to close ski slopes until January 10.
The statement from Chancellor Angela Merkel dovetailed with French plans announced one day earlier to shutter ski resorts through the year's end. Infected tourists at ski resorts helped spread the virus across Europe earlier this year.
"I will say this openly that it won't be easy, but we will try," Merkel said.
In non-EU member Switzerland, however, skis resorts are open -- although police have been spotted patrolling to ensure that skiers respect anti-Covid measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.
In the US, travel appeared to be down the night before Thanksgiving, when Americans usually criss-cross the country to be with family and friends for the carbs-laden feast marking one of their most important national holidays.
With more than 150,000 cases daily in the US, which has the world's highest death toll of more than 259,000, health authorities had for the first time ever called for Americans not to travel for the annual holiday -- but stopped short of issuing an outright ban.
In recent days images on social media of crowded airports fueled concerns Americans were not taking the warnings seriously.
But one day before Thursday's celebrations, officials and passengers in Los Angeles noted an eerie quiet compared to previous years.
"On a normal Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving out here, there would be a lot of traffic behind me. Typically, we have a quarter of a million passengers ... coming through here," airport spokesman Charles Pannunzio said.
US food banks on the other hand have seen long queues in recent days as the economy continues to stagger under the pandemic.
"We are ready to feed 4,000. Me and my crew, we worked constantly at this, just to make sure that whoever didn't have was able to have a nice Thanksgiving meal this year," said David Thomas, head chef at the Los Angeles mission.