Austria Allows Skiing At Xmas, But Only Just & Not For Many

Strict quarantine rules are set to be imposed making the slopes out-of-bounds to most foreign holiday skiers. Resorts can open on Xmas Eve for locals only as hotels remain shut.

“From December 24th, individual sports outdoors such as skiing will be possible again so that the Austrian population has the chance to engage in sporting activity over the holidays,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

He was speaking at a news conference announcing re-opening measures after the country’s second coronavirus lockdown ends on Sunday 6th December.

Hotels and accommodation providers in resorts will remain closed until January 7th.

Bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs will also remain closed until January 7th,  however they may be allowed to reopen if infection rates allow.

It is some small good news for local skiers and snowboarders, but very bad news for the economy of the resorts themselves and the many local businesses.

Strict quarantine measures have also been introduced for international visitors and Austrians returning home from a trip abroad.

All those travellers who come to Austria from countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a 7-day period will need to quarantine for 10 days.

The current rate in the UK is 153.

In Germany, its largest foreign ski market, it stands at 148.

People arriving from neighbouring Switzerland (310) and Italy (281) would also have to quarantine.

The measures will likely rule out people from Austria going over the border to ski in Switzerland where the resorts are expected to be open over Xmas and the New Year.

“We have to enforce a strict border regime,” said Chancellor Kurz.

He was joined at the news conference by the Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer.

“One goal is to stop people travelling abroad over the festive season.

“It is not acceptable for Austrians to travel to neighbouring countries to attend New Year parties,” he said.

Other measures include a nighttime curfew and limits on the number of people in social gatherings.

After 5-days in quarantine people will be able to have a test and if negative would be free to end their isolation.

“We we remain optimistic and hope that with all the news measures and regulations, we can still look forward to better times in January,” said a statement from the Tirol to PlanetSKI.

“Unfortunately this is not good for tourism ….this does not make it easy in this situation. But as a consequence, the infection rate should decrease, so that this can change again.

“Let’s hope that in this way, the numbers can decrease. Health and safety are simply the top priority”.

This week the Austrian Ski Association urged its government not to give in to mounting pressure from Germany, France and Italy to delay the start of the ski season.

The authorities in Vienna will have come under severe pressure from Germany in particular.

In response to a question from a German journalist Mr Kurz said “Germany and Italy were not taken into account in the decision to allow skiing – only in such a way that foreign ski tourists are practically unable to come”.

The Chancellor stressed that all measures, no matter how they are chosen, could be criticised.

A survey in Germany showed that the majority of citizens were in favour of closing European ski resorts.

Almost 74% of those questioned by the polling company, Civey, said it was either “obvious” or “preferable” to close the resorts to control the spread of the pandemic.

Last week when the EU pressure rose to close resorts Chancellor Kurz, said it was “not a matter in which the EU should interfere”.

All British skiers and snowboarders who have booked to go to Austria are advised to contact their travel agent.

“Oh no! Supposed to be flying to Innsbruck on 20th December, it was always doubtful,” was the reaction of one PlanetSKI reader as news emerged.

Austria is currently subject to travel warnings from Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Finland and Norway.

There are various quarantine measures required for foreign nationals returning from Austria to their home country.

Austria has seen a sharp rise in cases, though the current lockdown has brought the numbers of people catching coronavirus down.

Austria goes into lockdown as covid-19 continues to surge

When the ski resorts open there will be strict Covid-19 precautions in place.

We have been following the discussions about whether ski resorts will be allowed to open closely on PlanetSKI.

Crucial Week Ahead for Ski Season Start in Europe

New Restrictions in Austria from Monday 7th December

Borders – The classification of risk areas is based on the 14-day incidence of positive corona cases. People entering from a risk area must be quarantined for 10 days. A PCR test can be carried out after 5 days to end the quarantine if the test result is negative. There should be exceptions for commuters and business travelers.

Public Places – In public places, all people who do not live in the same household a minimum distance of 1 metre must be kept. When meeting in closed public spaces, keep a distance of one meter and wear mouth and nose protection.

Retail and services – Trade and services are open again. It is mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection. There is a limit of 10 m2 per customer for customer areas.

Gastronomy (including mountain restaurants) – Restaurants, bars, cafes remain closed. Pick-up is possible between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. It is not permitted to dispense alcoholic beverages.
Delivery services will remain permitted without time restrictions.
From January 7th the catering can reopen with restrictions depending on the infection rate.

Hotels and accommodation providers – Hotels and accomodation providers stay closed. There are exceptions e.g. for business trips that cannot be postponed.
From January 7th, accommodation providers can reopen with restrictions depending on the infection rate..

Events – Events are prohibited (including cultural events, wedding celebrations, birthday parties and Christmas markets).
Information on possible easing restrictions should be announced in approx. 10-14 days.

Museums, libraries, galleries – Museums, galleries and libraries are open again. It is mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection. A restriction of 10 m2 per visitor applies to visitor areas.

Sport – All contact and team sports (soccer, etc.) are prohibited, indoor sports facilities are closed to amateur athletes. Outdoor sports venues can open from December 24th. Thus, individual outdoor sports (such as skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, …) are possible from the 24th of December, taking the appropriate hygiene rules into account.

Cable cars, lifts – Cable cars, gondolas and ascent aids may not be used for recreational purposes until December 23rd. From December 24th, cable cars, gondolas and lifts (in closed cabins with a capacity restriction of 50%) can also be used for leisure purposes. Wearing a face and nose mask is also mandatory in the waiting and boarding areas.