Resorts Closing in the Tirol as Negative Covid-19 Test Needed to Ski

St Anton and Soelden have closed with others expected to follow suit. The Covid-19 test requirement makes skiing impractical for many. The Tirol has Europe’s highest outbreak of the South African variant.

Anyone using the slopes must now have a negative test taken in the previous 48-hours.

It can be a PCR or antigen test.

The rule has been introduced with immediate affect.

There will be random health checks carried out to ensure people are sticking to the regulations.

The Tirol says it is determined to keep ski resorts safe and open, however there has already been an impact.

Soelden has closed its lifts and slopes.

“Due to the current developments with renewed tightening for the Tyrolean ski areas, the Bergbahnen Sölden unfortunately no longer see themselves in a position to guarantee a satisfactory and responsible ski operation,” said the resort.
Skiing is closed “until further notice”.

St Anton has also closed its lifts and slopes.

“From Wednesday February 17th skiing in St Anton am Arlberg will be suspended until further notice,” said the resort in a statement.

“The reason for this is the new regulatory requirements that are now in force in Tirol, according to which ski slopes can only be accessed by people who have previously used a cable car if these people have a negative Covid test result (PCR or antigen) that’s not older than 48 hours, and the resulting control obligations of the ski resort operator.”

“Therefore there will be no skiing in St. Anton/St. Christoph/Stuben,” it added.

“For us, responsible behaviour, safety and health of all our guests, employees and the local population is our priority.

“We are looking forward to welcoming you in St. Anton am Arlberg and to sharing with you the beauty and uniqueness of our region.”

Other resorts remain open but more closures are expected.

Some are considering opening at weekends only.

Here is the scene at the resorts around Innsbruck (red closed, green open) on Wednesday 17th  – Stubai and Kuhtai will be opening on Thursday 18th.

Children under the age of 10 are exempt from the regulation.

People who have been infected with the coronavirus in the past six months, and can provide a medical certificate, are also not affected by the new rules.

Ski tourers will not have to provide a test as long as they stay off piste.

People will still be able to use the lifts for sight-seeing purposes, but will not be allowed on the slopes.

The lifts come under the jurisdiction of the federal Ministry for Transport, rather than regional authorities.

Kuhtai, Tirol, Austria

Kuhtai, Tirol, Austria

Some resorts, such as Ischgl, have still not opened and others are closing lifts as they are not economically viable to run.

The lockdown has also been extended across Austria until Easter for the restaurants, bars and hotels.

No date has been given for when the affected sectors will be allowed to reopen.

There will be further discussions on 1st March.

“We hope that it will get better at the beginning of March and that we will be able to open a little earlier around Easter – if the situation improves by then, of course,” the Tirol said in a statement.

The SPÖ politician, Benedikt Lentsch, described the move as “completely unnecessary” and he said it would only create more confusion and misunderstanding.

Tirol, Austria

Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

In the ski resort of Soll in the Tirol two British seasonal workers have been arrested for being at an illegal party.

Police were called to an apartment after complaints of noise.

They found at least six British nationals who appeared to be drunk and were not wearing FFP2 masks.

At least two people escaped via a balcony.

Two men, aged 41 and 24, were arrested for trying to punch the police.

No one was injured.

The two men, who have now been released, face charges of resisting police authority.

The group faces charges of violating pandemic rules.

No-one can leave the Tirol to go to other parts of Austria as we reported earlier.

German has already closed its border with the Tirol for 10-days and this is likely to be extended until March 1st.

“The outbreak of the South African variant in Tyrol is the biggest currently known of in the European Union,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

Investigations are underway to discover how the variant arrived in Austria.

Initially it was speculated that skiers brought in the virus by using loopholes in the laws to come skiing in the Tirol.

The government said this week there is no evidence to support the claim.

Another rumour which has been dismissed by the government is that golfers in Zillertal who took a private plane to play golf in South Africa may have brought the mutation to the Tirol.

Some claim there is evidence that the mutation entered from southern Bavaria in Germany.

Some believe it may have come from Switzerland.

Italian experts have traced the strains of the virus which made it clear that the mutated strain arrived in Europe through Switzerland.

Walter Ricciardi, the head of the Italian government’s coronavirus task force, said Switzerland’s decision to keep ski slopes open throughout winter allowed the British strain of coronavirus to arrive in Europe.

“The country that brought the British variant to Europe is Switzerland,” Ricciardi told Italian TV.

“The British went skiing in Switzerland – a country that stubbornly kept the ski facilities open.”

Whatever the cause the various mutations of the virus are having a significant impact.

The majority of the cases in the Tirol are in the district of Schwaz, where mass testing is now being carried out.