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Austria: mass rush of skiers causes chaos

In several winter sports areas in Austria, the onslaught of skiers and tobogganers in the middle of lockdown led to problems. As a result, some operators closed the area completely or blocked it off for further visitors.

In the state of Styria, the police reported long traffic jams and waiting times on the streets on Sunday morning. Several parking spaces are full, they have been cordoned off. The ski areas on the Hauser Kaibling and St. Jakob im Walde were reportedly closed to other athletes.

In Carinthia, the authorities closed the streets to foreigners because the rush was too great. The ski area in the Bodental south of Klagenfurt and the Dobratsch Alpine Road were affected.

The news portal Vol.at published a video on Boxing Day that is supposed to show a crowd in front of a lift in Damüls (Vorarlberg). The people on it wear mouth and nose covers, but hardly keep any distance from one another.

Despite the general curfew, skiing is not prohibited in Austria. The national sport benefits from an exemption that also applies to other individual sports. Skiers are allowed to use lifts and mountain railways. They should keep a minimum distance of one meter. Gondola lifts are only allowed to be used at 50 percent, passengers must wear FFP2 masks. In Germany, however, ski lifts are closed.

Ski rentals are also allowed to open in Austria and ski schools are allowed to teach at least members of a common household. »For the ski instructor, this activity is a professional purpose and therefore one […] Exception to the exit restriction «, it says on the website of the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs.

For vacationers from Germany and other countries, skiing is hardly an option in Austria. Hotels are closed until January 17th. Anyone entering the country must be in quarantine for at least five days.

Sharp criticism of the perceived conditions in the ski areas spread on the Internet. “Finally back to Ischgl,” commented a Twitter user sarcastically. The Tyrolean winter sports resort is considered a breeding ground for the spread of the virus last winter.

Toboggan meadows closed completely

At that time, according to ORF research in Austria, more than 11,000 citizens from the EU alone were infected with the virus, mostly in Ischgl and the surrounding Tyrolean ski areas. At least 27 people, mostly Germans, are said to have paid for the consequences of the Tyrolean skiing fun with their lives. This winter, Ischgl doesn’t want to open its ski area until January.

Some media in Austria rated the ski operation at and after the Christmas holidays as a success. There were no traffic jams when queuing at the lifts, the public radio broadcaster ORF quoted an official in Carinthia.

In some communities, however, the rush became eerie. Semmering (Lower Austria) closed the toboggan meadows on Sunday. The “Kronenzeitung” quoted the mayor of the community as saying that “the rules of distance are not being adhered to”. According to him, at times more than 1,000 people went sledding.

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