France's ski resorts, among the most popular in Europe, will not be allowed to reopen in time for the year-end holiday season, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.
In a TV address announcing the end of a nationwide lockdown on December 15, Macron said coronavirus risks made it "impossible" to allow winter sports to resume quickly.
Macron said he would consult with his European partners to coordinate start dates for the winter season.
It was preferable, Macron said, to plan for a re-opening of the resorts in January "under favourable conditions". He promised an update with 10 days.
The Haute-Savoie region in the French Alps on Monday had the highest number of virus infections per 100,000 people in the entire country, followed by the neighbouring Savoie region.
Health authorities have warned that regional hospitals could be saturated quickly if crowds of skiers from France and abroad were allowed to travel to those regions.
"Obviously we really want a reopening, but not at the cost of endangering public health," Jean-Luc Boch, president of the ANMSM association of mountain resort mayors, told AFP.
France totals 350 ski resorts employing 120,000 people during the high season and generating an estimated 10 billion euros ($11.9 billion) of income each year.