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Coronavirus in Austria: Rush in the winter sports areas

Despite the third lockdown in Austria, some winter sports areas are open. There was such a rush over the weekend in bright sunshine that some operators blocked access.

Large crowds in the open ski areas in Austria: At the weekend there were sometimes traffic jams for so long that some pulled the emergency brake and blocked access. The Bodental in Carinthia, which offers winter hiking and cross-country skiing, remained closed on Sunday after the rush on Saturday, as did the toboggan meadows in Semmering around 100 kilometers southwest of Vienna. In Damüls in Vorarlberg, around 70 kilometers south of Lindau on Lake Constance, too large a crowd had to be broken up.

Lots of vehicles and hundreds of day trippers

The crowd in Damüls arose because of a lack of snow in neighboring areas, said Andreas Gapp, head of Vorarlberg cable cars. “We have learned from this and will adapt our concepts as soon as possible.” Otherwise he drew a positive balance of the Christmas days. “People wear the FFP2 mask, keep their distance and accept the food and drink rules,” he said.

In the Bodental and Semmering areas, it was “loads of vehicles parked on the roadside” that alerted the authorities. It was said that the access of fire engines or ambulances was partially obstructed. Hundreds of day trippers were on the way and the corona distance rules could no longer be guaranteed.

Driveways now closed

On Christmas Day, Semmering had tried in vain to limit the number of tobogganers with barriers. Both parishes closed the driveways completely on Sunday. The Semmering-Hirschenkogel mountain railways continued to operate. Ski guests who had booked online could use them. The cable cars have reduced their maximum number of guests to less than half due to the Corona distance rules.

Many ski areas are open in Austria – but only for residents. There is a ten-day quarantine requirement for those arriving from abroad, which discourages most tourists. The particularly effective FFP2 masks as mouth and nose protection are mandatory for all skiers over 14 years of age who use gondolas or lifts or have to stand in line.

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