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Skiing in Austria: What does the coronavirus lockdown mean for winter sports?

Despite Austria re-entering a harsh lockdown on December 26th, skiing will not be completely forbidden.

Skiing in Austria: What does the coronavirus lockdown mean for winter sports?
A street sweeper in the Tyrolean resort of Ischgl. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

On December 2nd, Austria announced that skiing would again be allowed from December 24th as part of a lockdown relaxation.

Just a few weeks later, amid rising case numbers, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the country would be headed towards another lockdown from December 26th until late January. 

Skiing however has not been banned under the measures. 

EXPLAINED: What are the rules of Austria's upcoming coronavirus lockdown?

The government decided that rules surrounding how and whether to allow outdoor sports — including skiing — will be left for local authorities to determine.

Therefore, ski slopes will again be open from Christmas Eve – depending of course on whether this is allowed by state authorities. 

“The situation is not the same everywhere” said Vice Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler.

In addition, ice rinks and closed cross-country trails will again be allowed to open. 

What measures will be in place?

Technically speaking ski slopes have not been closed in Austria, however ski lifts and gondolas have been forbidden – effectively making skiing impossible for anyone but the incredibly fit. 

The lifts will again be allowed to open from December 24th, although lift capacity will be reduced to 50 percent. 

In addition, everyone will have to wear a FFP2 mask on ski lifts and in the queues while waiting. 

FFP2 masks will be on sale on site, Kronen Zeitung reports

EXPLAINED: Is it safe to ski in Austria this season? 

Several ski resorts have said they will open earlier than usual to minimise the risk of queues forming

Austria's federal states also have the power to introduce stricter rules should they consider them appropriate. 

In Styria, ski resorts will measure the temperature of skiers – although the measure will be voluntary, Kronen Zeitung reports

Can I skill have a ski holiday?

No. As has been previously announced, skiing will only be possible via day trip, with hotels closed until January 18th at the earliest. 

In addition, apres ski activities are completely banned, while restaurants and cafes will also be closed. Some food options will be available on the slopes, reports skiing magazine Skigebiete Test

Which states will open their ski slopes?

Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Styria and Salzburg have already announced that they will open their ski areas on the 24th. 

“Despite all the discussions of the last few days: We have received a lot of positive feedback that people can finally ski”, spokesman for the Salzburg lift operators, Erich Egger, told Kronen Zeitung

Can I travel to Austria to go skiing?

While foreigners are not banned from the slopes, Austria's strict Christmas quarantine rules – along with a ban on hotel stays – make it almost impossible for anyone to enter the country for a skiing trip. 

From December 19th, Austria put in place a strict set of quarantine requirements for almost everyone who enters the country. 

After five days in isolation, people will be entitled to take a free coronavirus test in order to leave quarantine early.

Once a negative result has been confirmed, they will be allowed to leave quarantine. 

UPDATED: What you need to know about Austria's Christmas quarantine rules 

Without the test, quarantine will last ten days. 

The Local Austria reached out to the Austrian government for clarification on how people can get tested if they are already at home quarantining. 

The representative told The Local that anyone wanting to be tested should contact their local health officials – and that a PCR rather than an antigen test is required. 

 
 
 

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HEALTH

Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has announced new quarantine guidelines for dealing with monkeypox in Austria.

Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has published a set of guidelines for authorities after Austria reported its first case of the disease on Monday.

A three week quarantine now applies to contacts of confirmed cases, but only if they are showing symptoms of monkeypox, reports Der Standard.

The isolation period can be completed at home or at hospital, depending on the state of health of the patient.

Furthermore, contacts of a positive case will be treated as either Type I or Type II in a move similar to the management of Covid-19 contacts.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Type I contacts are considered as high-risk and include those who have had direct contact with skin lesions of an infected person, such as sexual partners, but also close passengers on planes, buses or trains for a period of at least eight hours. 

High-risk contacts do not have to isolate straight away but must monitor their condition for 21 days through a daily phone call with the health authorities. If symptoms occur, then the person has to quarantine for three weeks and a PCR test has to be carried out.

Type II contacts are short social contacts, such as work colleagues (not in the same office), or fleeting contacts in gyms, saunas or bathrooms. These contacts must monitor their health for 21 days.

READ ALSO: More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

A case of monkeypox is confirmed after a positive result from a PCR test and Austria currently only has one confirmed case of monkeypox in Vienna.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that positive cases of monkeypox are contagious for the entire duration of an infection, which can last from two to four weeks.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The disease displays symptoms in two phases.

The first stage involves a high temperature, muscles aches, back ache, chills, headache, swollen glands and exhaustion.

This is typically followed a few days later by a rash on the mouth, throat, face, hands and forearms before spreading to other parts of the body. The genital area can also be affected.

READ MORE: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

A patient is no longer contagious when the rash has disappeared.

To be considered a suspected case, a person must have been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, recently returned from West or Central Africa or been in contact with a potentially infected animal.

Additionally, a person must have developed a rash of unknown cause and at least two other symptoms (e.g. fever, chills) within 21 days after contact.

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