UK SEASONAL WORKERS BACK HOME FROM QUARANTINE IN AUSTRIA
28th March 2020 | James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Last modified on March 31st, 2020
A total of 260 British people, most of whom are seasonal workers in ski resorts, were able to fly home from Austria on Saturday. PlanetSKI reports.
They were unable to leave when the authorities closed the resorts such as Ischgl and St Anton with immediate effect 2-weeks ago and put all residents and workers under 14-day quarantine.
Guests were allowed to leave but not the seasonal workers, many of whom worked for the UK tour operators in the resorts.
PlanetSKI’s George Eykyn was on holiday at the time in St Anton and was one of the people allowed out.
He detailed his escorted exit for us at the time and spared a thought for the UK reps unable to leave.
The workers were taken to Innsbruck Airport by bus and with a police escort in compliance with strict hygiene and safety requirements.
They were given little notice of their exit and they had been keeping their fingers crossed they would be allowed out over the past few days.
News came through late on Friday night to those in St Anton from the resort authorities.
Dear locals, employees and guests,
We received a new regulation from the Landeck district authority on Friday evening at 21:10. This regulation also confirms that a certain number of English employees were allowed to leave on Saturday.
This decision was taken in cooperation between the British and Austrian Governments.
They were issued with paperwork to stop others getting out who were not authorised, and escorted to Innsbruck airport.
During their enforced stay the resorts were all on lockdown.
They received messages from the authorities midway through the quarantine period:
“The latest pictures from Italy urge us to take the prescribed measures very seriously – we must not fall into a possibly creeping routine, the virus is still very dangerous for our risk groups.
“It is up to us to stop the spread of the virus in our region.
“Special thanks to all those people, who maintain our basic supply!
“The blue-light organisations are on duty 24 hours a day in these difficult times and they are there for us when we need them, thank you very much.
“Our population is characterised in these days by mutual attentiveness, helpfulness and great cohesion – a heartfelt thank you for that.
“We also thank all our staff and guests for their discipline.
“We are well aware of what it means to have to cope with everyday life in these extraordinary times, far away from familiar surroundings, far away from home and far away from all relatives.”
Some in St Anton had more immediate problems.
This message was posted on Facebook from Marcus Lambert on March 19th:
“Hey fellow Quarantiners,
“Like most of you guys, we are trying to keep our spirits high during these strange times!
“We unfortunately ran out of gas for our beer in the Hotel Montjola, if anyone has a spare gas we can borrow to save us from the epidemic we could be most grateful!”
We understand the gas was forthcoming with a little bartering with food and drink.
Elsewhere we have heard the circumstances of the quarantine described as “a nightmare” and being in “captivity”.
In Ischgl there was a rumour that there would be tests for coronavirus and those clear would be allowed home.
It was, though, exactly that.
“There is a rumour that the municipality of Ischgl, in contrast to St. Anton am Arlberg, has Covid-19 rapid tests and that persons who have tested negative may leave the country.,” said a statement from the authorities.
“This is a false report, and we would like to make it clear that Ischgl does not have rapid tests, nor is it possible to leave the country.”
Many of the seasonal workers, many in their early 20s, are now back at home across the UK.
Under lockdown once again, but at home with their family and friends.
Anyone showing any symptoms of the virus has been told to self-isolate with others in their household and follow the rules issued by the government.