WClouds, blowing snow and gusts of wind made skiing in Austria difficult at the beginning of the last week of the old year. The Rax cable car on Semmering in Lower Austria, less than a hundred kilometers by car southwest of Vienna, was closed completely due to bad weather. Likewise the high alpine skiing and hiking area Hochkar.
The day before, too, many skiers had to forego the long-awaited recreational activity on boards and boards, which has been allowed again since Christmas Eve. The sun had shone from the blue of the sky, but many excursion destinations had to close prematurely because the limited capacities due to the corona pandemic, especially in parking lots, were exhausted. Arriving beforehand and taking hotel rooms was not an option. Because even without the third “hard lockdown”, which came into force on December 27, Austria’s hotels are not allowed to accept any travelers as guests until January 18.
FFP2 masks are compulsory in gondolas
While 84-year-old Theresa Hofer was the first Austrian high-risk patient to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Sunday morning in Vienna, the good weather in the ski areas ensured overloaded parking spaces for day guests. Some left the car on the side of the road. There was also more activity on the slopes than on Christmas Eve, when not only the obligation to wear mouth and nose protection or even FFP2 masks in the gondolas, but also fog spoiled the fun.
In Lower Austria, where tickets are allotted, capacities were soon exhausted in many places. Upper Austria reported great crowds, for example at the Wurzeralm and Kasberg. There were no more parking spaces at 9:30 a.m. From other areas it was said that every third person left at noon. The Salzburg cable cars reported that there was a “good volume”, even if “nothing compared to the previous year”. 3000 guests would have romped about on the Schmittenhöhe – a fifth of what one would call normal in years without a pandemic. That less than usual can still be too much was shown in Damüls in the Bregenz Forest. Because there was less snow than expected in neighboring valleys, skiers concentrated there. The gathering was disbanded.
While lift operators emphasized that the Corona security measures were taking effect, opinions were divided, as expected, on social media channels with self-made photo receipts. In some places, adjustments were already made on Monday: Upper Austria’s Provincial Councilor (Minister of Economic Affairs) Markus Achleitner announced improvements to the security concepts: fewer parking spaces, more security staff, more space for distance when queuing at the gondola and lift. In general, it is advisable to “come to the ski areas as early as noon as far as possible, because many guests are on their way home from the morning and you can get onto the slopes so comfortably and without traffic jams”.