With the number of corona cases still rising in the country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the 16 German states agreed on Jan. 19 to maintain the lockdown and introduce tougher measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown, which was originally set to expire at the end of January, was extended until Feb. 14. “Non-essential” stores, schools and other non-essential businesses, such as gyms and sports centers, will remain closed. The new measures also include stricter rules on wearing medical-quality masks in certain public places and a stronger requirement for employers to allow home-based work. Meanwhile, Merkel called on EU countries to coordinate to stop the spread of new mutations of the coronavirus, warning that border controls may have to be put in place if not.

In an open letter (link to German-language Pdf), a group representing the bicycle industry immediately appealed to the German government to allow the sale of bicycles, e-bikes and accessories in local bicycle stores under strictly controlled conditions and in compliance with the hygiene regulations of the RKI, as the bicycle trade “is a warrantor for crisis-proof local mobility.” The letter is signed by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club, BICO Zweirad Marketing, Bundesinnungsverband Zweirad-Handwerk, Bundesverband Zukunft Fahrrad, Verband des Deutschen Zweiradhandels, Verbund Service und Fahrrad, Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV) and Zweirad-Einkaufs-Genossenschaft. Like those published by the ZIV, vds and ski retailers, previous open letters to the government have so far remained without significant response. The “non-essential” trade, which currently includes sports retailers, continues to be affected by the lockdown. One mini-success of the complaints may be that Click & Collect has been allowed again in those federal states where previously even collecting digitally pre-ordered merchandise at the stores was prohibited.

Due to concerns about the spread of the British coronavirus mutation, a nationwide 6-pm-curfew will be in effect in France as of Jan. 23. All stores will also have to close at this time. Schools and daycare centers will remain open, however. The tightened curfew will apply for two weeks for the time being. However, if the situation worsens, another lockdown – like the last one in November – cannot be ruled out. As for ski lifts, the French government is expected to announce that cable cars and other ski facilities, which have been shut down for the general public since Dec. 4, will not open until Feb. 1 at the earliest, or even throughout February. This leads to a 70 percent drop in bookings in the ski resorts for the season compared to the same 2019/20 period.

In contrast with Austria, Switzerland and Spain, where most ski lifts are still allowed to operate, the Italian government has taken a position similar to the French one. Italy’s ski facilities were supposed to reopen on Jan. 18, but they will remain closed at least until Feb. 15. However, sporting goods stores located outside shopping malls have been exempted from the generalized retail lockdown for the sale of non-essential products.

Poland has been under a tighter lockdown since Dec. 28. It was originally planned to last until Jan. 17 but has now been extended until the end of the month. Stores in shopping centers are closed - except for grocery stores, pharmacies and drugstores. Hotels have also temporarily suspended their operations. Ski slopes are also closed.

Britain has started its third lockdown on Jan. 5. Stay-at-home rules are in effect. People are only allowed to leave the house to buy food and medicine, go to the doctor or work, and play sports. Schools and colleges are closed. Retail stores, hairdressers and restaurants are also closed. 

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