Austria will reopen ski areas, but…

The Austrian government today announced that ski areas would reopen in December as part of an easing of corona virus lockdown restrictions.

In a press conference this afternoon, the government said that ski areas would be allowed to reopen on Christmas Eve, in common with other outdoor sports such as cross-country skiing or ice skating.

The Austrian government had been under severe pressure from winter sports spokesmen, including the association of Tyrolean ski lift operators, who had announced that they would be happy to reopen their ski areas even if it was only for locals. (Foreign guests make up a vast majority of visitors to Austrian ski resorts.)

However, the announcement of the ski area reopening does not mean a reopening of the winter holiday season for visitors. As part of the new plans, the government said that any visitor arriving in Austria during the Christmas period would automatically be put in quarantine if they had come from a country with a high level of infection – ruling out practically all of the major European target markets.

And hotels and restaurants will be subject to restrictions until at least 07 January. Accommodation providers, if they are open, are only allowed to accept guests on work-related trips, while restaurants are only allowed to provide takeaway services. Bars will remain closed.

Lift operators and skiers will be subject to corona-related restrictions, including capacity limits for multi-person ski lifts, wearing of masks and the maintenance of social distancing.