Covid-19 Infections are rapidly rising in Austria; however, authorities are saying the country’s ski resorts – which create a huge revenue – will open in the coming ski season.
In March, thousands of skiers were infected at ski-slope bars and apres-ski parties. A criminal investigation had been launched at a ski resort in Ischgl in the Tyrolean Alps, after allegations surfaced that a coronavirus infection was covered up there. That infection has since been identified as a major centre of the European outbreak. It has been reported that hundreds of infections in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Denmark have been traced back to the resort. Now, a consumer watchdog said it is suing the government for coronavirus outbreaks in the country's ski resorts.
Chancellor Sebasitan Kurz said that this time, strict social distancing and hygiene measures will be enforced. He added: "It won't be possible to have apres-ski the way we are used to from the past, because the risk of infection is too high ... Ski fun yes, but no apres-ski.”
New social distancing measures to keep skiers safe
Skiers must keep at least one metre apart, wear masks in cable cars and gondolas, and bars and restaurants will only serve seated customers.
"Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, dancing, singing in small bars or outdoor bars are potential centres of infection,” Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said.
Austria has now issued new travel warnings for Paris, Prague, Israel and a number of other destinations, but removed Sweden, Australia, Japan and others from its no-go list. Austria, with a population of nearly nine million, has recorded more than 41,500 cases and 786 deaths from Covid-19 in total to date.
"In the upcoming weeks, we have to do everything we possibly can to keep the number of infections low ... because that is the basis on which guests can come to Austria at all,” Kurz said.