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STRICT QUARANTINE MEASURES LIFTED FOR 3 AUSTRIAN SKI RESORTS

Ischgl, St Anton and Soelden in the Tirol were sealed off in mid-march. Extensive testing for covid-19 has been carried out and the authorities have now lifted the quarantine 3- days earlier than expected.

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Government coronavirus advice

Government coronavirus advice

The resorts are now under the same rules as the rest of Austria.

Small shops can open again, some limited exercise is allowed and there are plans to open more shops by the beginning of May.

Restaurants may open in the middle of the month if certain criteria are met.

In Ischgl, St Anton and Soelden there have been 10 positive cases in the past 12 days.

“For that reason, after consulting with the medical experts, it is no longer justifiable to keep these areas isolated beyond the federal regime,” said a statement from the Tirol.

The area had the highest concentration of cases in Austria and has been accused of spreading the virus through tourists leaving its resorts and heading home.

Earlier this month that after a testing offensive in the three resorts the authorities extended the quarantines by two weeks until April 26th because the virus was still widespread.

19% of the tests in Ischgl and 13% in St Anton were positive.

Ischgl and St Anton remain in quarantine with decision expected on Soelden

Ischgl had the biggest single cluster of coronavirus cases in Austria and an investigation is underway to examine if the authorities acted quickly enough and followed the correct course of action.

1,800 covid-19 cases linked to Ischgl

It recently responded.

“The coronavirus has put us in an unprecedented exceptional situation. In the past few weeks, we have implemented all the necessary measures step by step.

“Despite our efforts, many have been infected with the virus on site – we wish all those affected all the best and a speedy recovery.

“Like the rest of the world, we now have more answers and experience than we did 6 weeks ago – we want to learn from this for the future.”

Ischgl responds to criticism over its handling of coroanvirus

There is also a separate class action legal case being prepared by the Austrian Consumer Protection Association, the VSV.

It has almost 5,000 signatures.

3,400 come from Germany with 400 Dutch people and 120 Britons.

Legal action threatened over coronavirus spread from Austrian ski resort

It was originally thought the first reported case in Ischgl was on March 7th – a German barman at the Kitzloch apres ski bar in the centre of town.

However subsequent investigations have claimed that the first reported case was a Swiss waitress at the same bar on March 5th.

On March 10th the resort closed all its main apres ski venues.

On March 11th the resort said it was closing for 2-weeks.

On March 12th it said it was closing for the rest of the season after the Provincial government all rski esorts to shut.

However, on March 4th Iceland warned the resort some of its citizens had come back from the resort and developed Covid-19.

On March 5th Iceland warned its citizens not to travel to the resort.

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said the first case was believed to have been an Austrian waitress in Ischgl  who started showing symptoms on 8th February.

However the authorities in Tirol dispute this: “This information is demonstrably non-factual.”

It points out that her test was done retrospectively in March.

Some say Ischgl should have taken firmer action earlier after the warning from Iceland and then the outbreak at the Kitzloch bar.

The authorities in Ischgl have said it did it’s best in new and rapidly developing circumstances.

Ischgl, Austria

Ischgl, Austria

One of our reporters, George Eykyn, was in St Anton as the resort shut.

He reported live at the time on the lockdown and exodus, plus his subsequent fight with covid-19.

Austria itself is so far being held as an example of how to deal with covid-19.

Despite land borders with Italy and Switzerland that have both seen large death tolls,  25,085 and 1,509 respectively,  the Austria count has been low.

It stands at 510 which is lower than some other European countries see in a day.

The ski resorts will now try to see if there is a summer tourist season they can salvage.

It is likely land borders with other European countries will remain closed in the short term to stop coronavirus from entering.

However, with shops opening and a plan for restaurants to re-open then there is some hope for Austrian to be able to head to the alpine resorts.

Strict social distancing measures would need to be in place and enforced, but there are signs of extremely cautious optimism in the Austrian Alps.

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