The Italian government has delayed the reopening of ski slopes until at least March after detecting several cases of the British coronavirus variant.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
February 17, 2021
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Italians will have to wait a bit longer for their winter ski trips.

The Italian government has delayed the reopening of the country's ski slopes until at least March 5 after detecting several cases of the British coronavirus variant in Italy. Officials made the announcement on Sunday, the night before ski resorts were supposed to reopen.

Government officials cited worry over the spread of the British and other coronavirus variants, the Associated Press reported. That British variant is responsible for nearly 18% of the recent COVID-19 infections in Italy, according to the AP.

Credit: Алексей Облов/Getty

France and Germany are also keeping their ski slopes closed to deter the spread of COVID-19. Switzerland has kept its ski resorts open throughout the pandemic — a decision Italian officials have said is perpetuating the spread of the coronavirus variant. Austria has also kept its ski resorts open, though lodging closures mean only locals can take advantage of its largely empty slopes.

Behind the U.K., Italy has seen the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe. Italy has reported more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases, and more than 94,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Italy was among the first western countries to institute pandemic lockdowns in 2020, as its hospitals were being stretched.

Travel is currently prohibited between regions in Italy, though some attractions, such as the Vatican Museums, have reopened.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.