Sunday December 27, 2020
Rush despite lockdown
Austrians are crowding the slopes
The third lockdown of the year has been in effect in Austria since Saturday. Nevertheless, numerous ski areas are so overcrowded that the access roads are closed. In the meantime, the vaccination campaign is also starting in Austria.
In bright sunshine, there were sometimes so great traffic jams at the Austrian ski areas on the weekend that some blocked access. The Bodental in Carinthia, which offers winter hiking and cross-country skiing, was closed this Sunday after the rush on Saturday, as was the tobogganing meadows in Semmering around 100 kilometers southwest of Vienna.
The Hinterstoder, Wurzeralm and Kasberg ski areas in Upper Austria were full at noon and cars were turned away at the valley entrance. On Saturday, a large crowd had to be broken up in Damüls in Vorarlberg around 70 kilometers south of Lindau on Lake Constance.
Despite the lockdown that came into effect on Saturday, many ski areas are open in Austria, but practically only for residents. There is a ten-day quarantine requirement for those arriving from abroad, which discourages most tourists. In addition, all skiers over 14 years of age must wear FFP2 masks in the gondolas, lifts and in the queues in front of them. Some mountain railways only transport half as many guests in order to be able to comply with distance rules. Tickets should be booked online.
The crowd in Damüls arose because of the lack of snow in neighboring areas, explained Andreas Gapp, head of the 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, authorities were alerted by “loads of vehicles parked on the roadside”. It was said that the access of fire engines or ambulances was partially obstructed. In Semmering, attempts were still unsuccessful on Christmas Day to limit the number of tobogganers with barriers. Both communities have now closed the driveways completely.
The Salzburg mountains are well attended, but the situation is relaxed, reported the spokesman for the Salzburg cable cars, Erich Egger. They are mainly day trippers. There were around 3,000 guests on the Schmittehöhe this Sunday, compared with up to 16,000 guests a day in previous years.
Police break up illegal party in Vienna
Meanwhile, the large-scale vaccination campaign against the corona virus began in Austria. “It is a historic day on December 27, 2020,” said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. It is “the beginning of the victory against the pandemic”. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that a good four million vaccine doses should be available in the country with almost nine million inhabitants by summer.
The third corona lockdown came into force in Austria on Saturday. On the very first evening, the police in Vienna broke up an unauthorized party with 40 to 50 guests. The young people between the ages of 13 and 22 had specially rented a house, the police reported. Almost two dozen of them were reported, the others had fled. Among the guests was a 19-year-old German who is now being prosecuted for drug possession. The party was blown because one of the guests had injured his head. Friends took him outside and alerted rescue workers a few blocks away, but police officers joining him spotted the party.
Apart from grocery stores, pharmacies and drug stores, shops in Austria must remain closed for the next three weeks. Other exceptions apply to banks and bicycle workshops. Houses and apartments can only be left around the clock with good reason – but this also includes sports or walks. The permitted contacts with other households are severely restricted. When shops and cultural institutions open again on January 18, visitors must first show a negative corona test in order to visit them.