Austrian authorities have imposed new protocols at ski resorts. To get skiers and snowboarders back on the slopes in a safe manner, guests must now provide a negative COVID test result. PCR or antigen tests are acceptable and must have taken place within 48 hours before entering the resort, effective immediately. In addition to the new regulations, ski slopes have been closed to foreigners, open only for locals to ski.
Despite the rules in place for local skiing only, Austrian authorities have caught and cited foreigners for breaching lockdown. In early February, 96 foreigners were caught spending a ski holiday in Austria in violation of local rules. Reports say they could find loopholes in the system by registering local addresses or saying they were seeking employment. The violators could face fines of up to $2,633 for their selfish actions.
With more requirements needed to actually get onto the mountain, fewer people will want to go through the effort required to ski. Even more so if they have to pay for the testing out of their own pocket. The impact of these regulations has already been felt in the Tirol, as Soelden has closed down, citing an inability to guarantee their guests’ safety. A few have even closed their lifts as it has no longer become economically viable to operate under such stringent restrictions.
More than ever, we need to be looking out for our communities over ourselves. Stronger restrictions have been put in place due to multiple violations of simple protocols put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. New rules and regulations have had a greater impact on ski resorts worldwide, so let’s do our part in reducing the virus’s spread while vaccines are rolled out, even when it comes to our skiing.
As more people start to get the COVID vaccine, we will see a resurgence of patrons at ski resorts worldwide. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we hope that happens before the snow begins to melt, for our sanity and the stability of our own mountain resorts.