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Police Carry Out Checks on Foreigners in St Anton with 96 in Breach of Covid-19 Rules

Several British nationals are reported to be among those in breach of pandemic-related rules on entering the country and the national lockdown regulations. 44 hotels & lodges were checked. 133 people were interviewed with 96 given ‘notices.’ Some were ordered to take a COVID PCR test.

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The police carried out a series of operations on Friday night to find out if foreigners were in the ski resort legally and were obeying the Covid-19 rules.

Ski resorts in Austria are allowed to run their lifts but they are for locals only.

The police were acting on information that dozens of young people had arrived in the resort in the past week.

“Among others Britons, Danes, Swedes, Romanians, Germans, Australians, Irish people and Poles were checked and fined,” the Tirol police said in a statement,

15 officers were involved in the operation.

The police said that if people were found to be breaking the rules they could be fined up to €2,180 (£1,930).

Commenting on the police operation, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said “whoever fails to obey the Covid-19 rules and stays in our country without justification must be fined”.

Tourist accommodation is only available to business travellers.

“Anyone who tries to circumvent the strict legal situation must expect that they will meet the full severity of the law,” said District Police Commander Obstlt Christoph Patigler.

He added that rule breaking would “not be tolerated.”

St Anton’s Mayor, Helmut Mall, is reported by the Reuters news agency as saying that new arrivals in the resort have registered a local address saying they are looking for work, even though there are no jobs available.

Travelling within the EU for work purposes is legal under the EU’s free movement laws.

The resort authorities have sent leaflets to local residents urging them not to provide accommodation shelter – and thus secondary residence – to the foreigners.

The police did not say exactly what offences had been committed but said the foreigners had breached lockdown and immigration regulations as well as the law on registering an address.

Austria is currently in lockdown until February 7th and the government is currently considering whether to extend it or ease the measures.

The resort has seen heavy snow this month.

“Circumvention of legal regulations will not be tolerated,” said the deputy district captain of Landeck, Siegmund Geiger.

“With an increase in the pressure of control by the police and authorities, anyone who tries to circumvent the strict legal situation must expect that they will meet the full severity of the law.

“Violations in this context are subject to severe penalties , since it is not a trivial offence.”

Recent reports by the Danish public service broadcaster DR have suggested that nationals of Denmark and other countries have entered Austria by registering as ‘looking for work’.

Austria currently has a ban on foreign tourists entering the country for skiing.

The authorities in St Anton said that they could not put an exact number on the amount of tourists who had entered the region in this manner in order to ski, but said there were around 300 seasonal workers in the town.

“Since Christmas, more and more foreigners have come here. Around 10-15 per day,” said mayor, Helmut Mall.

Locals are said to be concerned about the possible spread of Covid-19 by the foreigners.

There have been recent outbreaks of Covid-19 on ski instructor courses in Austria. The courses have been acting within the rules.

Local media reports that visitors have been observed using the ski slopes in St Anton, even though only local Austrian residents are allowed to use them.

There are reported to be pictures on social media where 30-40 young people are partying illegally.

Police say that après-ski parties have taken place – in haylofts near the slopes and with canned beer from the local grocery store

It is thought that British nationals are likely to have arrived prior to the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020.

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