Ski season: How former Covid hotspot Ischgl is preparing for winter

Cable car in ski resort
Extra disinfections and FFP2 mask requirements on cable cars are on the cards. Photo: Luca Nardone/AFP
The Ischgl ski resort in Austria made headlines during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as one of Europe's early hotspots, but has promised a raft of new safety measures when it re-opens next month.

Last winter, the ski lifts did not open at all, and national regulations for winter tourism have yet to be announced, but Ischgl authorities said they were prepared for a late November opening.

More than €700,000 has been spent on safety measures and other improvements to the cable cars in Ischgl, including a new camera system and regular disinfections of the cable cars, ski buses, shops and toilets.

“The aim is to be one of the safest destinations in the Alpine region for our guests,” Alexander von der Thannen, chair of the Paznaun-Ischgl Tourism Association, said in a statement.

The winter ski season will officially begin in Ischgl on November 15th, with a concert featuring Italy’s Il Volo, for which proof of 2G (vaccination or recovery only) will be required.

At the moment, the 3G rule ( a requirement for proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative Covid-19 test) is in place for cable cars, eating and drinking venues, and entering hotels. At the moment, apres-ski venues are treated the same as ‘night gastronomy’, which means that only a negative PCR (not antigen) is accepted for entry if you have not got proof of vaccination or recovery. FFP2 masks are required for cable cars and in indoor areas.

However, new rules may still be announced for winter tourism depending on the level of infection and hospital capacity both nationwide and regionally. Austria’s neighbour Switzerland announced on Tuesday that Covid passes would not be required for ski resorts this winter.

Ischgl became the subject of international headlines after being the site of Europe’s first ‘superspreader’ event in March 2020. 

Skiing and partying continued for almost a week after a bartender tested positive for Covid-19, until a complete and immediate lockdown of Ischgl and Sankt Anton, a nearby ski resort, were announced. 

Tourists were forced to evacuate within hours, and in the end more than 6,000 people from 45 countries, including Britain, the US and Germany, said they contracted Covid-19 on their holidays. There are several active claims for damages against the Austrian authorities linked to the incident.


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