Monday, September 20, 2021
Tightening to 2G possible
Austria issues 3G rules for ski slopes
Last winter was a total failure for Austria’s ski industry. The government wants to save the coming season with a step-by-step plan. Only vaccinated, convalescent and tested people are allowed on the slopes. However, if the situation in the intensive care units worsens, unvaccinated people are left out.
In Austria, the so-called 3G rule will apply on the ski slopes in the coming winter sports season. Cable car operators are only allowed to transport people who have been vaccinated, tested or recovered against Covid-19, as the government in Vienna announced. There will be no distance rules and capacity restrictions for the ski lifts, but there will be an FFP2 mask requirement. Should the utilization of the intensive care units with corona patients increase, the rules for unvaccinated winter sports enthusiasts will be tightened. “I am convinced that with these framework conditions a carefree, safe winter season in our country,” said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger at a press conference in Vienna.
There are currently around 200 intensive care beds in Austria occupied by Covid 19 patients. If the number rises to 300, unvaccinated people are no longer allowed to visit après-ski bars – not even with negative test results, said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein. From this level onwards, cable cars, restaurants and hotels are no longer allowed to accept self-tests. Show negative PCR tests from an intensive occupancy of 400 beds & unvaccinated persons. The less precise antigen tests are then no longer sufficient.
If the situation worsens, the government will wait for the 2G rule – vaccinated or recovered – to be extended to other areas in the room. How the 3G rule should be checked at the cable cars without long queuing was initially unclear. The Ministry of Tourism said that a solution was still being worked on. For example, the online sale of lift tickets could be linked to an automated control of the corona status.
Lift operators in the Black Forest want 2G
In Germany, the cable cars criticize that the control obligation is the sole responsibility of the operator and that it cannot be implemented either in terms of personnel or economically. “Here we expect pragmatic solutions from politicians, such as random checks,” explained the association. “And we would like the personal responsibility of our guests to come to the fore.”
As the first ski area in Germany, winter sports operations are due to start on the Zugspitze on November 19th. Proof of this at the time of booking is planned in the German Feldberg ski area in the Black Forest. However, the lift operators want to implement the 2G rule there. For school-age children, a negative test or a student ID is sufficient, as a spokeswoman for the lift network said on Monday.
For Tourism Minister Köstinger, the goal is “that Austria will not be burdened with travel warnings again”. Ski tourism is an important industry in Austria. According to Köstinger’s ministry, more than half of all winter holidays in Europe take place in Austria. Guests from Germany play an important role: Before the pandemic, Germans quickly accounted for 37 percent of overnight stays in the 2018/19 winter season. According to Köstinger, the 2020/21 season was a “total failure”. Austria wants to polish up its image as a safe travel destination, after the Corona outbreak around the Tyrolean ski and party resort Ischgl in 2020 caused infections across Europe.
However, Austria’s top medical representative, Thomas Szekeres, criticized the government for “talking about après-corona instead of après-ski” because of the low vaccination rate of 60 percent.