Austria to allow Christmas skiing but many restrictions stay amid coronavirus – go back and forth

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Austria will allow skiing to begin on Dec. 24, but will limit the capacity of ski lifts and retain restaurants, bars and hotels in large part closed until early January, officials said Wednesday. It also will require many of us entering the country over the Christmas period to enter quarantine.

Hard lockdown measures took effect Nov. 17 and are because of expire on Sunday. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said a limited curfew that has applied around the clock will be eased, and from Monday will apply only between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Schools will be reopened next week, with the exception of for older students, as will nonessential shops, museums, libraries and a few other businesses. But restaurants will remain closed for all but takeout and deliveries, as will bars, and hotels will remain closed with the exception of to trade travelers.

Austria has been tough hit by the resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe, though its infection rate has declined over recent weeks. It currently is recording 335 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days, down from around 600 final month — but still more than twice as many as in neighboring Germany, which is in a milder partial shutdown.

Kurz said that progress over recent weeks, and the expectation of more before Christmas, allows “cautious” reopening steps. But he said the tourism and catering sectors won’t start reopening until Jan. 7.

That will effectively intent that, over the holiday season, skiing is conceivable normally only on day trips for those Austrian residents who live relatively near to the Alps. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said there will be mask-wearing and distancing requirements, and the capacity of cable cars will be limited.

Kurz said that allowing skiing for locals but keeping the catering sector closed is “absolutely justified.”

“Skiing is a sport that takes place in the open air, an individual sport, so epidemiologically it will have to be assessed another way from catering, where we realize that there can over and over be infections,” he said.

Kurz added that he, as a resident of eastern Austria, won’t benefit but “for a large a part of our population it’s going to then be conceivable to go skiing a minimum of for the day.”

France and Germany, which has closed its ski resorts, are pushing for similar measures to be taken in other European countries, like Italy and Spain, for the Christmas season. Ski resorts are already open in neighboring Switzerland, which has allowed skiing.

Kurz rejected suggestions that Austria’s limited reopening used to be a response to pressure from in a foreign country.

“We make a decision according to our infection situation, and our expectation is that we will push down our infections very, very strongly by Christmas,” he said.

Austria also plans tougher border controls and quarantine rules so that you could dissuade people from traveling in a foreign country over the Christmas period. Austrian residents’ summer trips to see relatives in the western Balkans, in specific, were blamed as a remarkable source of the resurgence of infections this fall.

The quarantine rules will be imposed by mid-December and will apply “whether you’re coming from a country that exceeds a sure limit of infections,” Kurz said. Authorities set the limit at 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days, an infection rate which the huge majority of European countries currently surpass.

The requirement will be for new arrivals to enter quarantine for 10 days, which they may be able to cut short by taking a test after five days, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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