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TOURISM

Tour de France to go ahead ‘almost behind closed doors’

The Grand Depart of the annual cycling event in Nice on Saturday will take place "almost behind closed doors", the regional authority in Nice announced on Thursday.

Tour de France to go ahead 'almost behind closed doors'
Tour de France spectators must be masked to watch the race.Photo: AFP
France's largest long-distance cycling event will be going ahead despite the Covid-19 pandemic, albeit with some slight changes to the programme.

“Gendarmerie and police will be present to prevent spectators crowding the lanes, we will spread people out,” Bernard Gonzales, Préfet of the Alpes-Maritimes département said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.`

He was flanked by the Mayor of nice Christian Estrosi and Tour boss Christian Prudhomme.

Vehicles would not be allowed in to access the area, the Prefect added.

“The depart will take place in large bubbles.. almost behind closed doors,” Gonzales said, adding that Nice had gone into a “red zone” this morning and that the Tour organisers were not caught off guard.

READ ALSO What does it mean if my département is a red zone?

With the race set to start in just a couple of days, France has seen a spike in coronavirus rates. Health authorities recorded 5,429 new cases of the virus in 24 hours on Wednesday – a tally unseen since mid April when the country was on a strict, nationwide lockdown.

The number of “red zone” départements has risen to 21. A “red zone” is the official designation signifying a high level of spread that gives local authorities extended powers to enforce restrictive measures such as closing down bars and restaurants or restrict access to public transport.
 
 
Nice has imposed mandatory mask-wearing across the city outdoors to cope with the surge in spread.

Tour de France spectators must be masked to watch the race.

Traditionally, Tour de France is held in July, but due to the health crisis the race was postponed to August 29th, when it will kick off in Nice. It finishes in Paris on September 20th.
 
 
The delay was the result of a compromise between the organisers and the French government after a spat in March when Sports Minister Roxana Maracineaunu suggested that the Tour could go ahead without a public.

Member comments

  1. Should have been canceled. All down to money. Even the Olympics were cancelled for this year. What’s wrong with Macron, has he no backbone at all?

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TOURISM

Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.

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