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Merkel slams state plans to open hotels for families over Christmas

Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly slammed plans by state leaders to allow families to stay over the festive period.

Merkel slams state plans to open hotels for families over Christmas
Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

What's happening?

Contact restrictions will be relaxed over Christmas and New Year to allow for low-key celebrations in Germany.

But will people be able to travel and stay in hotels while visiting their family and friends? The federal government and states are in disagreement about this.

Currently, hotels throughout Germany are only allowed to accommodate people travelling for essential reasons such as business. That's because during the partial lockdown, which has been extended until at least December 20th, there is a ban on tourist overnight stays throughout the country.

However some states have decided to go their own way and allow relatives to stay in hotels over the festive season.

IN DETAIL: Germany extends coronavirus shutdown and tightens restrictions

 

Which states are offering hotel stays?

Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony announced they will allow hotels to open over the holiday break.

Other states are considering this move too.

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What's the reaction?

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the government are not happy about this move.

Merkel warned that it risked worsening the coronavirus resurgence hitting Germany, participants in a conservative party meeting said on Monday.

According to Reuters, Merkel said she couldn't understand why states are allowing hotels to accommodate family, particularly in large cities and regions with high infection numbers.

She also criticised that state premiers had not informed her about this plan.

“Citizens remain called upon to avoid tourist trips,” said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert later on Monday. Travel for family reasons is difficult to distinguish from this, he added.

A hotel in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Seibert then referred to last Wednesday's meeting at the government and states summit – the decision did not include “private use” of hotels, he said.

Despite Merkel and the government's comments, the state leaders have the final say on what happens to hotels under the federal system.

Skiiing holidays 'could worsen situation'

Seibert also said that the German government was sticking to the goal set by Merkel of limiting the skiing season in cooperation with neighbouring countries because of the pandemic. Seibert said that the number of infections could rise again “by starting the skiing season too early”.

The closure of ski resorts is the subject of fierce debate in the EU. Austria and Switzerland want to open their slopes. Besides Germany, Italy is also in favour of closure. France does not want to ban skiing holidays, but wants to prohibit the operation of lifts.

 

Member comments

  1. Good, I hope that she is displeased. Maybe she will have some understanding that because of her policies, people are loosing their livelyhoods. Or maybe she’ll just continue on with Klaus Schwabb’s plan for us all.

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WEATHER

Will anywhere in France get a white Christmas this year?

A white Christmas might be at the top of many people's festive wish list but will it actually come true for anyone in France this year?

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France.
Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France. Non-mountainous parts of the country will not see snow this year. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

If you’re in France and have been dreaming of a white Christmas, you are probably out of luck. 

It has been freezing in recent days with temperatures falling to a low of -33.4C in Jura on Wednesday morning, but the cold spell isn’t going to last. 

Temperatures across the country will hover around the 10C level in most of France by the afternoon on December 25th according to Météo France, with parts of the country including Brittany and some parts of eastern France experiencing rainfall. 

By the afternoon on Christmas Day, the chances of snow look extremely limited. Source: www.meteofrance.com

On Saturday, there will be some snowfall, but only if you are high in the mountains at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m. On Sunday, places above 1,500m could also see snow – but this rules out the vast majority of the country. 

Roughly half the country will see sunshine over the weekend. The French weather channel said that this Christmas could be among the top five or six warmest since 1947. 

Last year, Météo France cautioned: “While we often associate snow with Christmas in the popular imagination, the probability of having snow in the plains [ie not in the mountains] during this period is weak in reality.”

One of the last great Christmas snowfalls, outside of France’s mountainous areas, came in 2010 when 3-10 cm of snow fell in Lille, Rouen and Paris. In Strasbourg, 26cm fell. 

On Christmas Day in 1996, 12 cm of snow fell in Angers – ironically, this was also the day that the film, Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël? (Will there never be snow at Christmas?) was released. It had been ten years since France had seen such snowfall outside of the Alps and Pyrenees. 

Météo France directly attributes declining rates of Christmas snowfall to climate change. Compared to 50 years ago, even the Alps receives the equivalent one less month of snowfall per year. 

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