Austria Plans Christmas Skiing, But Effectively For Locals Only

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VIENNA: Austria on Wednesday chose a middle way on skiing after neighbouring countries argued opening its resorts would be unsafe, saying it would allow skiing on Christmas Eve effectively only for locals and day trippers, with visits from abroad made difficult.

The move was announced as part of Austria’s planned loosening of its coronavirus lockdown as of Monday, when the country will switch back to a nightly curfew, with shops reopening and primary schools going back to in-person learning.

Italy and Germany have called for European nations to agree to keep their ski resorts shut over the Christmas and New Year holidays, since many proved to be breeding grounds for the novel coronavirus during the first wave of infections.

Ski lifts will be allowed to reopen on Dec. 24, but hotels and restaurants will stay closed until Jan. 7, the government said in a statement, effectively restricting skiing to day trippers and people who live near a resort.

And in an apparent bid to prevent ski tourism from abroad, Austria will broaden its quarantine requirement to anyone who arrives from a country that had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, the statement said.

That includes Italy, where the level is currently above 600, and Germany, where it is above 300. Anyone arriving from those countries until Jan. 10 will have to go into quarantine for 10 days, with the option of ending it early if they test negative after five days in isolation.

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