Austrian ski areas that had expected to open in November, before the second lockdown in the country began, may not be opening the day the lockdown is expected to end – at the end of this month.
Instead ski areas are looking to open some way into December, which appears to be in line with government plan to ‘gradually come out of lockdown in December’ rather than everything immediately re-opened.
Ischgl, which traditionally throws a big ‘opening’ weekend at the end of November (already cancelled for this winter) is suggesting the most dramatic change – not planning to open until December 17th, about three weeks later than usual.
The resort famously spent around a million Euros one year on autumn snowmaking in order to open with by far the most terrain open in Europe and the world that warm, dry season. This year the resort’s lift company is reported to have spent around 700,000 euros so far on measures to fight coronavirus in the resort.
The Arlberg region, home to Lech and St Anton originally said they were aiming for an earlier date, December 4th, but now say they’ll open all sectors on December 17th too.
Eight Austrian glacier ski areas and Kitzbuhel had already opened in October or before when the new lockdown began and its not clear if they will aim to re-open the day it ends. Other ski areas such as Obergurgl and Obertauern usually open in mid-November.
Measures in place in Austria this winter include mask-wearing required on ski lifts, an après-ski ban, and extended lift opening hours to minimise the risk of queues developing. An increasing number of larger resorts are also supplying free buffs or face masks to lift ticket purchasers. Employees of the tourism companies are regularly tested for Covid-19, and tour guides and ski instructors can also be tested for free.