Polish ski slopes set to open, but only local skiers for now

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FILE PHOTO: People ski during winter day in Jurgow close to Zakopane.

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish ski slopes look set to reopen this winter, but only for local people during the coming school holidays because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The government said at the weekend it was allowing shopping centres to reopen in the run-up to Christmas, but other sectors were disappointed more restrictions had not been lifted.]

"The sanitary protocol for the use of the ski stations has been finalised, the slopes will be open in winter," Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, a day after meeting representatives of the ski industry.

But the government has also said it will take steps to limit movement around the country over the winter holiday season, and Health Ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz said Poles should not count on being able to travel to the mountains.

"There is indeed talk here about the possibility of opening the ski slopes, but I'd say these ski slopes are rather for people living nearby than for people who would like to go on vacation," he told reporters.

Hotels and restaurants will be closed during the holiday period, Andrusiewicz said.

"This year we will spend our holidays at home," he said.

Poland has registered more than 900,000 cases of the novel coronavirus.

The COVID-19 restrictions have upset regions in southern Poland that rely heavily on tourism and are widely seen as bastions of support for the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

"It is hard to come from certain regions of Poland just for one day for skiing," said Agata Wojtowicz, president of the Tatra Economic Chamber in southern Poland. "It is necessary to look for solutions... with full sanitary safety, which give the possibility of having tourism."

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, additional reportung by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)