Ski resorts were supposed to reopen in Italy on Monday, Feb. 15, but the Italian Health Minister, Roberto Speranza, abruptly signed a decree on Sunday, extending the ban on recreational ski resorts until at least March 5, in connection with the spread of the British variant of the coronavirus across the country. The new Italian government, led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, was only one day old on Sunday. Speranza, however, was also the health minister in the previous government. A recent report by a commission of scientific experts that advises the minister had found that the British variant was present in 88 percent of the 16 regions examined for the study (out of 20 regions overall). Based on these data, the commission suggested that a reopening of the ski facilities would have been too risky. The last-minute decision on the eve of the expected reopening caused a wave of protests, as professionals had already hired personnel and invested money to prepare the equipment and the slopes. They are particulary angry because the decision was only announced around 7 p.m. on Sunday. Like in France, where the ban on ski facilities is set to last until the end of February, in the midst of the school holidays, it will prevent the industry from salvaging at least part of the season. In other action, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to open in Switzerland on March 1, but German retailers will have to wait until March 7.