Ski resorts in northern Italy are reopening for the winter season after prolonged shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although a recent rise in infections is spreading worries over possible new restrictions.
Fabio Sacco, the president of the Skirama consortium that brings together several resorts in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, said he had been waiting to restart since March last year, when Italy imposed a lockdown.
"It is really an exciting moment," he told Reuters.
Europe is being swept by a fourth wave of the pandemic that has already forced Austria, one of Italy's neighbours, to announce a full national lockdown. Germany has not ruled out similar measures.
Italy has also seen a rise in daily cases in recent weeks, especially in some northern areas where many ski slopes are located. Hospitalisations remain under control nationwide but operators are aware of the risks rising infections may pose.
"There is some uncertainty and fear due to the worsening of the pandemic trend, but the resorts in our consortium and across Trentino are prepared to handle different scenarios," Sacco said.
A COVID-19 health pass - which shows if someone has completed the vaccination cycle, has recently tested negative or recovered from the disease - is required to access ski lifts along with face masks and social distancing rules.
Skiers, enjoying clear blue skies and perfect skiing conditions, were feeling upbeat about the forthcoming winter season.
"Finally, after a year of closure we are happy. There is a desire to ski. The snow and the day are beautiful. I expect many positive things from this season," said skier Filippo Laureti.
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