Austria Imposes Ban on Foreign Skiers
The Austrian government decided that it would keep hotels and restaurants closed until January 6, effectively banning visits by foreign tourists during the year-end holiday season.
Austrians - either locals or day-trippers - will still be able to ski, but without foreigners there will be significantly fewer people hitting the country's slopes.
Still ski facilities will open for the local population on December 24.
In addition, travelers from countries with more than 100 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks would have to quarantine for at least five days after arriving in Austria.
Only a handful of Nordic and Central Asian countries are currently below this level in Austria's wider neighbourhood, according to the World Health Organization's regional European statistics.
The announcement by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz came after days of lobbying by governments in Germany, France and Italy to keep European ski resorts closed in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Switzerland is sticking with its plans to allow the ski season to go ahead. However, tourism officials expect that foreign guests will largely stay away because of travel restrictions and quarantine rules in other countries.
France also announced plans to implement a seven-day quarantine requirement to discourage its residents from travelling to foreign ski resorts during Christmas, in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Italy is also bracing for a forthcoming decree that will - according to media reports - confirm a curfew, close skiing facilities and warn against large family reunions at Christmas.
European Commission stated that "simulations show that in the current epidemiological context in the EU, it is difficult to justify lifting control measures," the advice stated, warning against a hasty relaxation of containment measures.
Given the cross-border nature of winter tourism in the European Union, member states should "carefully consider a common approach based on coordination, coherence and scientific evidence," the EU executive body said, staying out of the Alpine states' dispute on the ski season./DPA
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