The French town is located in the Haute-Savoie region close to the Franco-Swiss border. The mayor of the small town of Chatel which has around 1,200 inhabitants has made the decision to deck the town-hall with the Swiss flag as a protest against the French government’s insistence on closing the slopes. The ski season has been cancelled in France, but across the border, in Switzerland, the pistes are open for business.
Switzerland is looking to capitalise on the fact that French resorts are closed by keeping its borders open to attract skiers from neighbouring countries.
A major ski resort in Switzerland is even organising a shuttle-bus service for French skiers to visit its slopes.
This move is stoking tensions in the town of Chatel as the shuttle bus will pick up skiers from there.
Enrique Caballero, director of the Portes du Soleil Switzerland said: “We plan to pick up the skiers near Châtel and the other French resorts by bus.
“We are preparing to absorb part of the French clientele.”
He added: “We have no intention to enrich ourselves on the misfortune of others.
“Our main objective is to help our French neighbours by absorbing part of their skiers during the holidays.
“But if this results in a balanced income for this winter season, so much the better!”
Germany’s Angela Merkel has also supported a shut-down of ski resorts over the Christmas period.
In the German parliament, the German Chancellor said: “We will push for a vote in Europe on whether we can close all ski resorts.
“If you listen to noises coming out of Austria, it sadly doesn’t currently look like we will find an easy solution.
“But we will try again.”
The fear of a third wave of coronavirus stemming from a covid-cluster in an Alpine ski resort is based on outbreaks in such settings at the beginning of the pandemic.
An outbreak happened in Austria’s Ischgl ski resort that is understood to have been a major factor in the exponential spread of coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year.
Holidaymakers who attended the ski-resort then brought COVID-19 back to their home countries allowing the disease to spread rapidly across Europe.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.