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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Ski slopes remain open despite nationwide Covid lockdown in Austria

The rules are similar to those imposed last winter, when Austrians were able to ski while most of Europe was under strict lockdown.

The decision may raise eyebrows given the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl was one of the epicentres of Europe’s first coronavirus outbreak.

But there is little fear of a repeat this season: Ischgl was notorious for its raucous apres ski scene, which allowed the virus to spread rapidly in crowded pubs, and this year apres ski is off. 

Those Austrians who do head for the slopes will be left largely to fend for themselves, with restaurants and bars closed.

The skiing industry urged the government to go further, and allow catering facilities to open.

“If the cable cars have to run, then what about mountain gastronomy?” Franz Hörl of the Professional Association of Cable Car Operators told Austrian television. 

“It’s a question of safety too, because if we carry people 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) up on the glacier and the weather changes, it’s a risk for the skiers afterwards you don’t have the option of providing basic infrastructure in the form of catering.”

Despite the decision many ski resorts that had opened for the season have already announced they are closing because of the lockdown.

“The current situation is very challenging and uncertain for everyone,” Piztal ski resort said in a statement.

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