Austria’s ski resorts begin to reopen as lockdown lifts for the vaccinated

Après-ski bars and nightclubs aren’t permitted to reopen until at least January 9

Solden, Austria. Photo: Deposit

Helen Coffey©

Some Austrian ski resorts are preparing to reopen as the country lifts its lockdown for those who are fully vaccinated.

Restrictions for the entire population were in place for 20 days from 22 November in response to spiralling Covid infections and fears over the omicron variant.

They began lifting on Sunday, December 12, with more measures eased on Monday – but only for the double-jabbed and recovered.

“The infection rate has eased and allows regionally staggered openings,” the Austrian National Tourist Office said, outlining the criteria and reopening dates on its website.

“Travel to Austria for touristic purposes is possible again for vaccinated and recovered people.”

Some Austrian ski resorts have announced they are reopening this week as a result.

The resort of Lech said in a statement: “Preparations are going on at full speed. The freshly fallen snow needs to be prepared. The conditions are excellent for the start of the season! You can look forward to it!”

The resort is opening today.

Meanwhile, Obergurgl reopened for the season on December 12, tweeting: “Are you ready for skiing in Gurgl? We definitely are! All accommodations, restaurants, mountain inns and ski huts, the winter ski area, ski rentals, all shops and selling points are open for you again.

“The two must-haves rule (vaccinated or recovered) applies and FFP2 masks are obligatory.”

From December 15, all ski lifts and runs linking the resorts in the Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn ski area will also be up and running.

Some facilities will remain closed in ski resorts under national rules – for example, après-ski bars and nightclubs aren’t permitted to reopen in Austria until at least January 9.

Restaurants also have a curfew of 11pm, in line with country-wide restrictions.

A health pass proving vaccination or recent recovery is required to access ski lifts, while holidaymakers will also have to wear an FFP2 mask on lifts and in lift queues.

However, they do not have to be worn on the slopes while skiing.

Other rules will vary according to each area; Chancellor Karl Nehammer called the move an “opening with a seatbelt,” with each of Austria’s nine regions able to loosen or tighten restrictions as they see fit based on local Covid rates.

There had been an earlier lockdown in Austria for unvaccinated people only, but the latest lockdown applied to vaccinated citizens too, following record case numbers of coronavirus and Austria suffering from having one of the lowest vaccination levels in Western Europe.

Unvaccinated people in Austria cannot access ski resorts and must continue to follow lockdown restrictions.

They should remain at home for all but a handful of specific essential reasons, such as food shopping, going to the doctor or exercising.

In other travel news, Morocco has extended its travel ban on all inbound international flights.

It was initially due to lift today, December 13. However, the government has now confirmed that the ban will be in place until at least December 31.