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SKI RESORTS CLOSE ALL OVER EUROPE

Austria has announced major closures and Norway has said all its resorts are shutting with immediate effect. Other ski resorts across the Alps are now considering following suit with the coronavirus cases growing. PlanetSKI reports from the Alps.

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Make no mistake about it, the ski season is over.

Resorts are closing across the mountains due to the reality, not fears, over coronavirus, Covid-19.

Here at PlanetSKI we know of many outbreaks, some reported and in the public domain, and others not so.

We left northern Italy last week, spent some time in France and have now decamped to Switzerland and out of the mountains.

We are now leaving the ski resorts as we think they are likely places for coronavirus to spread and are simply too dangerous.

You may have seen see some articles on other ski web sites (no names mentioned) this week saying Easter skiing will be great, with good snow, empty slopes and some great deals to be had.

They are so far wide of the mark it is laughable.

Not to say irresponsible and dangerous.

The Alps are closing.

UPDATE, FRIDAY AM

Many ski resorts across Europe will be deciding today whether to shut due to the coronavirus crisis.  All resorts in Norway and the majority in Austria are closing, ones elsewhere will likely follow suit.

We understand some of the major French ski areas are meeting later today.

Resorts in Italy are already shut as the country is in lockdown.

It is an unprecedented situation and will cause major problems as people try to leave the mountains.

If you are in a resort or had a holiday booked please feel free to share your experiences with us on Facebook.

There will be further updates to follow on PlanetSKI throughout the day…

Here is what we know at PlanetSKI so far:

ALL TIROL SKI RESORTS TO CLOSE DUE CORONAVIRUS

The winter ski season is over in the 90 odd resorts in the Tirol in Austria and likely everywhere else in the country.

Resorts in France and Switzerland will be looking at the implications for them.

In a short statement on Thursday Tirol Tourism said the lifts in all the resorts will close on Sunday 15th and the hotels and accommodation the following day, Monday 16th.

“The health of our guests, employees and those in the Tirol is our first priority.”

“It was a difficult decision.”

PlanetSKI spoke to a senior source in the Tirol Tourist Office after the meeting was held to close all the resorts in the state.

“It is a very, very sad day but a necessary decision to combat coronavirus,” PlanetSKI was told.

“We need to protect the people in the Tirol – the people that live here and the employees of all the resorts, plus of course our guests.”

“Health and safety is paramount.”

“I’ve been worried this would happen since well before travelling out here a week ago,” said PlanetSKI reader, George Eykyn who is on holiday in the resort of St Anton in the Tirol.

“People in St Anton have been dreading and expecting something like this since the decision to close Ischgl, nearby.”

“It is clearly a catastrophe for the local economy and all those whose livelihoods depend on tourists like us visiting their beautiful resort.”

“And that’s replicated right across the region. For now, all we can say to them is that we are really sorry — and that we will definitely be back,” added George.

Further details will be given on Friday.

ALL SKI RESORTS IN AUSTRIA’S SALZBURGERLAND WILL CLOSE FOR THE SEASON ON SUNDAY, FOLLOWING THE DECISION OF THE TIROL RESORTS.

Salzburgerland includes the major resorts of Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Zell am See and Obertauern, among others.

According to a social media post by Saalbach-Hinterglemm, resorts in the Austrian Vorarlberg and Carinthia will also close on Sunday.

“While having a special responsibility towards our guests and population of Salzburg, on this Thursday evening, we had to take further measures in order to put your health first along with enclosing the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

“We have therefore decided to end the 2019/20 winter season.

“The skiing areas of SalzburgerLand have their last day of operation on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Moreover, all of the tourism operators in the federal state of Salzburg, such as hotels, B&Bs and other forms of accomodation will be closed from Monday, March 16, 2020 (last day of operation).

“These measures are carried out in close coordination between the authorities and the tourism boards of Salzburg.”

Resorts in Scandinavia have also announced they are closing.

Skistar, which owns Trysil and Hemsedal were the first to announce they were closing with immediate effect and until further notice due to a municipal decision.

All affected guests are being contacted.

“We follow recommendations from authorities and experts and also encourage our customers to follow the advice and recommendations from their own government,” a statement from Skistar says.

Shortly after, Hafjell and Kvitfjell jointly announced they were also closing.

The two resorts will shut until at least 27th March but the closures could be extended.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this causes to our guests,” the resorts said.

“In such a situation, it is important that everyone helps prevent increased infection in Norway.”

UPDATE:  NORWAY CLOSES

All Norwegian ski resorts shut today with immediate effect + no foreigners can travel to Norway without a 14 day quarantine – effectively Norway is closed.

“We are doing everything we can to assist the operators and tourists booked to all our resorts in the challenging time for all in the travel industry,” said a senior source in the Norway ski industry to PlanetSKI.

The news today came less than 24 hours after the Austrian Tirol resort of Ischgl said it would close from this weekend for 14 days.

It was the first resort outside Italy that announced it was closing due to the coronavirus crisis.

It is feared other resorts may face the same fate as the virus continues to spread.

“According to the decree of the Tyrolean government, the Ischgl ski area will be closed for 14 days from this Saturday, March 14th (last skiing day: Friday),” said the resort in a statement.

The Galtür, Kappl and See ski areas remain open.

“For questions about your accommodation during this period, please contact your landlord directly,” added the resort.

Ischgl has reported 14 positive tests.

There are 32 in total reported across the Tirol.

Earlier the resort reported the closure of the main apres ski bars.

The resort said they would be shut for an “indefinite period of time”:

  • Nevada Alm
  • Niki’s Stadl
  • Wedl Alm
  • Schatzi Bar
  • Freeride
  • Kitzloch
  • Posthörndl
  • Kuhstall
  • Niko’s Hexenkuchl
  • Feuer&Eis
  • Ischgler Einkehrschwung (Hotel Alpenglühn)
  • Trofana Alm
  • Champagner Hütte
  • Paznauner Taja (the restaurant is open though)

It appears all 14 of the people in Ischgl were infected from a 36-year old Norwegian barman who worked in the resort.

We understand the barman may have been infected by someone from Iceland.

All are now in quarantine and in isolation, and there are fears other cases will emerge.

“Investigations by the health authorities are well underway,” said Anita Luckner-Hornischer from the Tirol public health authority.

“The health authorities are making every effort to track down any additional potential contacts from the last few weeks.”

All close contacts of the people with the virus are being told to isolated themselves for 14 days.

The resort has a legendary and vibrant apres ski scene.

Apres in Ischgl

Apres in Ischgl. Image © PlanetSKI.

Some feared it may be too late and questioned why other places where groups gather were not being shut.

Now the whole resort is closing.

Other resorts across the Alps will see the move of Ischgl and question whether perhaps they should do so as a preventive measure, rather than wait until an outbreak occurs.

Ischgl apres ski

Ischgl apres ski. Image © PlanetSKI.

All events in the resort into April have been cancelled.

  • Open Air with Nockis in Kappl on March 15, 2020
  • Spring concert of the local band Ischgl in Ischgl on March 28, 202o
  • Galtür Nordic Volumes in Galtür from April 2nd to 4th, 2020
  • Top of the Mountain Easter Concert with SIDO on April 12, 2020
  • All demo shows of the Ischgl ski school

The Top of the Mountain closing concert in May is still scheduled to go ahead.

EARLIER ON THURSDAY:

APRES SKI BAR CLOSES IN ST ANTON

The Mooserwirt has voluntarily closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

“The Austrian government and experts strongly advise to suspend public gatherings to slow the spread of the virus.

“We are paying very close attention to the situation and we take the new measures seriously. We want to support them and help minimize person-to-person contact.

“It’s not just to protect our guests, but to protect our team members. In a sense of togetherness we have decided to close down MooserWirt VOLUNTARILY and WITHOUT any official instructions.

“Of course, a whole lot remains unknown—we don’t know how long the MooserWirt will be closed.

“We just don’t know what the future may hold…
“Thank you for your loyalty and support. We are looking forward to partying again with you all!

Elsewhere in the resort the weekly night ski show is cancelled.

“We follow the instructions from the officials to do everything to stop the virus,” said a statement from the resort to PlanetSKI.

“We all hope, that the situation will calm down soon,” it added.

Here at PlanetSKI we understand from a reliable source that there is one confirmed case of coronavirus in the resort, a local male.

Though we stress that this has not been confirmed.

We believe the health authorities are now contacting anyone he may have been in contact with.

One of our readers, who wishes to remain anonymous, is in the resort of St Anton.

“I would say numbers on slopes and lifts seem noticeably down on what you would expect for a blazing day of sunshine and blue skies,” our reader said.

” Long way from deserted though.”

“Obviously  people are talking about the bar closures and the situation in Ischgl. There is a sense of something inching closer and that wider closures could well follow elsewhere in Tirol.”

St Anton, Thursday 12th March

St Anton, Thursday 12th March. Image © PlanetSKI.

Austria has already banned groups of more than 100 people from gathering inside, and 500 outside.

The Austrian government is appealing to each individual to help limit the further spread of the coronavirus.

“Social contact should be reduced to a minimum” it advises.

“Young people are strongly requested to comply with these protective measures in the interests of older fellow citizens.”

Ischgl sign, Austria

Ischgl, Austria

Also in Austria there has been a serious outbreak in Saalbach in Salzburgerland that we have reported elsewhere on PlanetSKI.

This development in Ischgl is serious and should be seen as an example by other resorts of what may be to come.

Ischgl has acted in an exemplary fashion by releasing accurate information in a timely manner and should be commended for that.

Other resorts I fear may not be doing the same.

I was in Northern Italy as the crisis developed and I watched it first hand.

To begin with I was not overly concerned as the numbers in the Aosta Valley, where I was based, were small and I followed all the health guidelines religiously.

My worries, though, grew day by day as I saw the situation developing.

I left before the lockdown in Italy and have been in partial isolation in Chamonix in France since I left and obeying all the advice given.

I have no symptoms of the virus.

What I have detected in ski resorts is some general complacency by the majority of the public and some resort authorities.

I urge everyone to acquaint themselves with the facts and the correct hygiene measures. The situation is real, and it is happening.

In bars and restaurants I am not joining the throng.

Ideal territory for the virus to spread

Ideal territory for the virus to spread. Image © PlanetSKI.

Rather isolating myself as the guidelines advise.

It is less fun, but more responsible.

Splendid isolation

Splendid isolation. Image © PlanetSKI.

Plus skiing away from the crowds.

Skiing in Chamonix

Skiing in Chamonix. Image © PlanetSKI.

Here at PlanetSKI I am hearing multiple rumours of cases in several resorts and we will not report them until I know them to be true even though I suspect they are.

There are controls taking place on one of the borders between France and Italy.

“The border police are now stopping everyone entering Montgenevre from Claviere and aggressively,” said one of our readers.

The Tirol, where Ischgl is located, has released this advice:

Coronavirus in Tirol: The most important questions and answers.
Latest update: 10/03/2020, 19.30 p.m.

Is travel in and out of Tirol restricted?

UPDATED:

According to the Austrian government’s statement of 12th March 2020, Italy is subject to the highest warning level.

There are no general restrictions on entering and leaving Tirol.

The only restrictions in place are on the border between Austria and Italy.

On 10 March 2020 the Austrian government issued the highest travel warning for Italy.

This means checks will be carried out on people wishing to cross the border from Italy to Austria.

All people – of any nationality – wishing to cross from Italy into Austria require a medical certificate which is no more than four days old.

People arriving without a medical certificate and staying in Tirol must self-isolate at home for 14 days.

It is, however, still possible to travel from Italy through Austria (without stopping) and on to other countries.

There are currently no train connections and no flights to and from Italy.

Border checks are being carried out on all people attempting to cross from Italy into Austria – in Tirol this means checks at the border crossings on the Brenner Pass, on the Reschen Pass and in Sillian.

We recommend that all travellers contact the relevant health authorities in their own country to get the latest information about current travel restrictions before setting off on their journey.

Are restrictions in public life to be expected?

In order to limit the spread of the virus, all outdoor events with over 500 people and all indoor events with over 100 people will be cancelled until the beginning of April.

No lectures or classes in universities and technical colleges that require attendance will be held.  These will be delivered by distance learning (online courses).

Should I be worried about travelling to Tirol?

According to the Austrian Deparatment of Health Tirol is currently not considered a high-risk area (link in German).

There are no travel restrictions for Tirol. Further information can be found on the website of the federal state government.

Please, inform yourself by the responsible authorities in your home country where to get updates from the local health department.

How many CoV cases are there in Tirol?

So far 32 people in Tirol have been diagnosed with CoV, two of them are no longer showing symptoms.

The government of Tirol works in close coordination with the federal government of Austria and the operational organisations to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

Are there currently any restrictions to and from Tirol?

There are currently no restrictions on public life.

This also applies to public transport both to and from Tirol as well as within the region.

There are absolutely no plans to close the borders. For all the latest information on public transport, please contact the Verkehrsverbund Tirol (VVT). .

As a precaution, from Tuesday, 10.03.2020 onwards, special teams will perform selective health checks on people crossing the border from Italy by car or train. This concerns the border areas Brenner, Sillian and Reschenpass.

Can I use public transport to travel around Tirol? What if I have already bought a ticket?

There is no restriction on public transport in Tirol. We will provide information quickly if this situation changes. Tickets which have already been issued can be used as normal.

Are the ski resorts in Tirol closed?

No, all ski resorts in Tirol are open as normal.

All the areas within Tirol can be easily accessed.

Can I cancel my holiday?

If you do decide to cancel, it is likely the standard cancellation conditions of your accommodation provider will apply.

For more information, please contact your accommodation provider or your travel insurance company.

Where can I find official and up-to-date information on the spread of the virus?

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Health provides information on its website (in German) about the spread of coronavirus worldwide and the current situation in Austria.

For the latest up-to-date information please visit the website of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) and the updates provided by the die regional government of Tirol.

A hotline operated by AGES gives information on transmission, symptoms and prevention of coronavirus: 0800 555 621 (7 days a week, 24 hours a day)

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

As with standard winter flu, the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus is by washing your hands several times a day with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant.

If you have to cough, cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue (not your hands) and avoid direct contact with people who are ill.

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