The considerations of several European Alpine countries to postpone the ski season to January 10th caused resistance in Austria. There is a tough lockdown in the country in view of the high number of new infections.
By Srdjan Govedarica, ARD-Studio Wien
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz considers an international vote on skiing in winter to be excessive. After yesterday’s government meeting, Kurz said at a press conference: “We are all not clairvoyants and we all do not know what the infection process will look like on January 10th in the various European countries.”
The Austrian federal government will discuss next Wednesday what the easing of the so-called hard lockdown, which is currently in force in Austria, could look like – with exit restrictions around the clock, locks in retail and catering and schools only in emergency operation. “Skiing is a topic. I respect that it is the big topic in the media. I can only tell you that there are a lot of questions: gastronomy, tourism, trade, schools, sports in general, the culture. There are many areas that are closed in a lockdown and where everyone rightly asks – when will which area be opened again? “, said Kurz.
Salzburg expects the ski season from the end of December
As far as skiing is concerned, comprehensive safety concepts were presented as early as the end of September: for example, with person limits in the gondolas, many tests with staff and severely restricted après-ski. Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger referred to this:
“You don’t get the virus on the ski slopes, but when you party afterwards. That’s exactly what we want to rule out.”
Salzburg’s governor Wilfried Haslauer said on ORF radio that he expected the ski season to start around December 19 and 20. Ultimately, the government decides, but it is well positioned. Is it possible to have a safe skiing holiday in Salzburg? “Yes,” said the governor. “We can guarantee that, a corresponding concept was drawn up together with the federal government over the summer, the companies are well equipped. We saw that in the summer too, we had almost no infections among tourists with millions of people who stayed here in Salzburg, “said Haslauer.
No trend reversal for new infections recognizable
In Austria there had been a sharp increase in new infections in recent weeks. At times – in relation to the population – nowhere in the world were there more new infections per day. The situation in the hospitals is also tense; with maximum values for hospitalizations, intensive care cases and deaths.
The number of new infections has decreased slightly in the past few days – but one cannot speak of a trend reversal, said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober. In view of this situation, the President of the Medical Association, Thomas Szekeres, advises caution:
“From a medical point of view, I would rather wait with the ski season. I hope that a vaccine will be available soon, and then maybe next year the ski season could start without any worries.”