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‘Avoid a second Ischgl’: Bavaria urges ski slopes to close across Europe over winter break

The premier of Bavaria on Tuesday said he planned to keep the Alpine slopes of his German state shut over the Christmas holidays to combat Covid-19 and urged European nations to follow suit.

'Avoid a second Ischgl': Bavaria urges ski slopes to close across Europe over winter break
Archive photo shows skiers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Photo: DPA

“We just can't have the classic ski holiday,” Markus Söder told reporters on the eve of crunch talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders on extending coronavirus restrictions.

Like other European countries, Germany is battling a second coronavirus wave and Söder said more needed to be done to bring down infection numbers.

READ ALSO: What will Christmas 2020 be like in Germany?

Many German and foreign holidaymakers flock to Bavaria and neighbouring Austria over the winter break to enjoy its pristine ski slopes.

Söder stressed that Germans thinking of simply crossing the border to ski on Austrian snow instead faced a 10-day quarantine upon return, since Austria is classed as a coronavirus risk zone.

“I would prefer to have a common agreement on a European level: no ski lifts open, no (ski) holidays anywhere,” said Söder, who has won praise for his handling of the pandemic so far and is often tipped as a possible chancellor candidate.

“If we want to keep the borders open we need a clear agreement on skiing. Otherwise things will get difficult.”

The goal, said Söder, was to avoid “a second Ischgl”.

The Austrian ski resort of Ischgl gained notoriety earlier this year after it became an early Covid-19 hotspot and infected tourists there helped spread the virus across Europe.

READ ALSO: Why has Bavaria been hit so hard in the coronavirus pandemic?

Member comments

  1. With appropriate safety measures there will be no further contamination. To keep the slopes closed it s a nonsense.

  2. Not agree. If you don t want to ski ( with all the benefits it brings), you are kindly requested to stay home

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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