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Ski Resorts in Austria Prepare for Lockdown

The whole country goes into lockdown on Monday. Some ski resorts remain open this weekend for final turns and others are now changing their opening plans. NEW

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It is the first part of Europe to return to full lockdown after restrictions have been eased over the summer months and with the roll out of vaccinations.

The lockdown means people will only be allowed to leave home for essential reasons such as medical appointments, shopping and exercise.

Restaurants, bars, hotels and non-essential shops will all have to close.

Ski resorts will shut.

In Austria Covid vaccinations will become compulsory in ski resorts and everywhere else by February 2022.

The chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, describe the mandatory move on vaccinations as “a very difficult decision”.

Several ski resorts including Hintertux, Stubai, Piztal, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn and Moltal are already open.

They will need to close.

This weekend askiing and snowboarding is continuing with the Freeski World Cup underway in Stubai in the Tirol.

Other resorts, including Ischgl, were due to open at the end of the month.

“The Austrian federal government has decided a new nationwide lockdown, which means that our Idalp will have to wait a longer time for enthusiastic winter athletes,” said Ischgl.

The authorities have said that the lockdown will continue until 12th December and then resorts can open, with Covid-19 restrictions in place.

“The 2-G regulation is supposed to come into force again and thus allow the vaccinated and recovered to have a vacation.

“We currently don’t know when exactly this will happen.

“Of course, we will keep you updated with the news in the coming days and ask you for a little patience until then, as we do not know all the details yet.”

St Anton was due to open in a few weeks and that has been delayed.

“In light of the current infection situation and the resulting overload of intensive care stations, the Austrian federal government will again order a nationwide lockdown from Monday, 22.11.2021, to mark the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Austria to break.

“The measure should be in all areas for the entire population by 12 at the latest. December is valid.

“Of course, the entire holiday region of St. Anton am Arlberg and the Arlberg mountain trails will open the winter season as soon as circumstances allow.”

St Anton has posted answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.

Cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in Austria with the main ski provinces of Salzburg, Carinthia and the Tirol amoung the worst affected areas.

The overall rate of cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period has risen to 1,050 according to the Austrian Agency for Health Food and Safety.

It is 1,787 in Salzburg, 1,299 in Carinthia it is 1,229 and 1,144 in the Tirol.

Of the other provinces Vienna is 620, Styria 715, Burgenland is 777, Lower Austria 908, Vorarlburg 1,194 and Upper Austria 1,667.

We reported in detail on Friday as the lockdown was announced and full details can be found in the PlanetSKI article:

The main reason for the high rates in Austria is the poor rates of vaccination across the population.

Only 65% of the total population is vaccinated and that figure rises to 74% in the over-18s.

It is well below the European average.

By contrast in Italy it is 74%, and 82%.

In France it is 69% and 81%.

Since Friday’s announcement of lockdown, 84 more people have been admitted to hospital in Austria with Covid-19.

There are 2,871 people being treated, with 520 in intensive care.

There is much speculation about how the approaching ski season will develop.

Some fear this is just the start of further closures and we may have a disrupted winter.

A minority believe it could turn out like last season.

Others feel it is just a blip.

On Friday after the Austrian authorities made their announcements our editor, James Cove, gathered his thoughts and we reproduce his analysis of where we are and where we might be heading:

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PlanetSKI Ponders

Our editor, James Cove, considers what the approaching winter may look like. Based on current facts and likely scenarios.

PlanetSKI Ponders. Image © PlanetSKI

PlanetSKI Ponders. Image © PlanetSKI

This time last year it was obvious that skiing and snowboarding at Xmas, New Year and January were off the cards for most.

I mentioned it to anyone that cared to ask and was labelled a ‘pessimist’ by some.

I preferred to think of myself as a ‘realist’.

Beyond the start of winter, it was too early to predict but it seemed highly likely a ski season would not happen for the majority in any recognisable form.

The virus was spreading and there was no vaccine.

And so, it turned out to be.

This time it is altogether more complex, and unknown.

There is credible set of circumstances where the ski season will happen, albeit with some undoubted hiccups along the way.

We may all be making some turns and having a different, but highly enjoyable time in the mountains.

There is another credible set of likely circumstances where it gets pretty much cancelled as too few people are vaccinated and hospitals come under pressure as the virus does its winter worst.

There may be skiing for locals only, but not visiting Brits.

Make no mistake, central governments in ski nations will introduce restrictions if hospitals are threatened with being unable to cope.

The ski resorts have a degree of influence over central government in Austria and Switzerland, but much less so in France and Italy.

It is though simply too early to tell.

If anyone tells you otherwise, then they perhaps need questioning – if the last 18-months have told us anything it is that wishful thinking gets one nowhere in a pandemic.

As does uninformed opinion.

There are usually plenty of both flying around.

The news from Austria has led some people say “here we go again”, but it might just be the tonic to prompt the unvaccinated to get vaccinated.

After February 1st it will be compulsory.

That would stem the spread that leads to hospital admissions and ICU beds becoming full.

Vaccinations are the key.

It is all about vaccination levels and hospital admissions.

Of the ski nations vaccination levels of total population in Austria, Andorra & Switzerland are generally poor.

Don’t even mention Bulgaria.

The UK is better (but not by much) but France is better still.

Spain and Italy are looking rather good.

So too is Norway, Japan and Canada.

The USA is lagging behind somewhat.

I have no real idea what will happen this winter as there aren’t enough facts and likely outcomes to make a sensible judgment at this stage.

Not very helpful for winter plans, but there you go.

Here at PlanetSKI we have made some ski plans for December and January – mostly in France and Italy.

At this stage they are not on the same trajectory as Austria, and to a lesser extent Switzerland.

But in truth we shall just have to wait and see.

We will attempt to make sense of how Covid-19 affects this season – based on facts rather than wishful thinking.

We will remain neither ‘optimistic’ or ‘pessimistic’, but just try to be ‘realistic’.

We’ll keep you posted…

PlanetSKI Ponders. Image © PlanetSKI

PlanetSKI Ponders. Image © PlanetSKI

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We are updating this breaking news story, so do check back for further developments on the  significant implications for the approaching ski season in Austria.

Do check back…

Image © PlanetSKI

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