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What influence will Corona have on the 2020/21 ski season?

Sudden stop. Not only skiers and snowboarders have been caught out in the cold by the Corona virus. The effects of Covid-19 are being felt worldwide. The virus has changed our everyday lives and this is also reflected in this year's ski season. Especially this year, in which many of us have foregone a foreign holiday, the desire to travel is on the rise. We´re looking forward to winter and are already full of expectations. Because there is good news: the 2020/21 ski season can take place. At the moment there is still some confusion concerning holidays in times of Corona: travel warnings, the record number of new infections and non-compliance with the corona requirements. We hear such news almost every day. Many therefore are asking themselves: Should I go on a skiing holiday in winter? Until when can I cancel? Will the cable car become a virus multiplier? One thing is certain: clear guidelines are needed so that we can enjoy the 2020/21 ski season. In the lifts, restaurants and accommodation – more and more ski resorts are defining measures for the 2020/21 winter holidays.

We reveal what you can expect in the coming ski season and why there is every reason (despite the situation) to look forward to winter in Austria.

Current information at a glance

Mandatory use of masks, distance rules, hygiene concepts: this year many things are different. So that winter sports enthusiasts and holidaymakers can really enjoy their skiing, ski resorts, restaurants, hotels, lifts and the like have laid down measures. We will keep you up to date with the latest news about the skiing winter and the measures. In general, check the ski resort's website before your holiday and follow the rules laid down by the government.

Where and how the season is to run despite Corona and what measures are currently in place can be found in the latest news:

  • New lockdown in Austria: stricter measures are in place until at least 30 November. Operations in the ski areas are also being limited.
  • Cable cars and ski lifts will stop operating: Only professional sportsmen and women may use the lifts and gondolas.
  • In Austria from 3 November, there will be a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and contact restrictions during the day.
  • Catering and accommodation facilities will be closed: Meetings, cultural events and Advent markets are cancelled for the time being. Only trade and service companies are currently allowed to open.
  • The Austrian government bans après-ski: Federal Chancellor Kurz, Minister of Tourism Köstinger and Minister of Health Anschober have decided to ban après-ski. The health and safety of holidaymakers is more important!
  • Ski school groups will be minimised: The group size will be limited to a maximum of 10 persons. The mixing of groups should be avoided.
  • Free corona tests: Not only employees from the catering & hotel industry, but also ski instructors and travel guides will be offered test opportunities.

As soon as the ski resorts are allowed to open again, there will be some things that will be different in the 2020/21 season:

  • In many ski resorts a large ski opening will be cancelled this year. In their place, visitors are to be entertained with smaller and locally distributed events.
  • Some ski resorts have announced that they will extend their opening hours. This should help to avoid peak hours.
  • Car parks and public transport facilities are to be expanded: Waiting times will be reduced. Keeping social distance will become easier.
  • The purchase of online tickets is recommended and being further expanded: In order to reduce queues at the ticket desks, those ski resorts in which it is already possible will rely on a ski pass in digital form.

Many ski resorts have taken important precautions:

  • In restaurants, pubs, lifts and shops, displays provide information about current regulations.
  • Cable cars, toilets, ski buses, etc. will be disinfected several times a day. Disinfectants should be available at all publicly accessible places.
  • Wearing mouth and nose protectors is compulsory in many places. At some stations, a buff (multifunctional cloth), which can also be used as a mask, is given with the purchase of a ski pass.
  • The lift capacity will be reduced to approximately 80% so that social distancing can be maintained. A minimum social distance of 1 metre is to be observed.
  • It is intended that there will be fixed routes on the slopes.
  • It is intended to be made possible for employees and guests to have corona tests performed and evaluated within 72 hours.
  • In restaurants and hotels, a distance of at least 1.5m between tables will apply. Alternatively, partition walls will be used.

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Corona virus: skiing and the risk                                       

One thing is certain: whether skiing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing – we are talking about outdoor sports. On the slopes we spend the whole day outside, getting fresh air and refuelling vitamin D. Snowboarding or skiing is always associated with the feeling of freedom. And there are many more reasons why a skiing holiday is also worthwhile this year.

You experience unique nature:
The unique view of the valley from the summit, snow under the boards and the clear winter air blowing around your nose: skiing brings you a little closer to nature.

Your workout is inclusive:
On your mark, get set, ski! Get on your snowboard or skis! Because: on a winter holiday you train your whole body and it´s even fun. Skiing is a sport for your arms, stomach, back, legs and bottom. It also makes you mentally fit. You also train your endurance. You boost your metabolism, which is especially opportune during the Christmas biscuit season. On average, we burn 400-600 kcal per hour while skiing. This puts skiing towards the top of the list – when it comes to calorie consumption.

You promote your health:
Especially at high altitudes, fat burning is stimulated and blood is pumped through the veins more quickly. This is good for your blood pressure and increases the supply of oxygen to your brain. Vessels and tissue are kept healthy. Exercise in the fresh air improves lung capacity. Your balance and flexibility improve.

You increase your well-being:
Blue skies, a freshly prepared ski run and a magnificent mountain panorama – is there anything more beautiful? Endorphins are released on the ski slope. Even a day trip to a ski resort can increase our satisfaction. The little problems at home fade into the background, stress and even depression is minimised. You simply feel free and happy!

You meet new people:
Skiing is more than just descending a piste. Whether moguls, steep slopes or the way up – a skiing holiday is characterised by variety and surprises. On the way down you swing your turns through the white powder snow. Alone we conquer the vast slopes.
But winter sports also have other sides: we make new acquaintances during the mutual ski lift ride up to the top, while queuing in front of the cable car or while celebrating in the alpine hut. And all of this in a very confined space – at least that was the case before this winter.

Second lockdown in Austria: the consequences for ski resorts

From 3 November onwards, ski resorts in Austria will once again experience a forced break –due to corona. Due to the increasing number of infections in the Alpine Republic, the government has decided to initiate a partial lockdown. Restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities will be closed. Ski lifts etc. may now only be used by professionals. Tourism will be virtually suspended for one month. A night-time curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. is also planned for the time being, until 30 November. This is intended to reduce the number of further new infections to a minimum.  After more than 5300 new infections were registered on 31 October in one day, the Austrian government, led by Sebastian Kurz, has reacted and decided on a new lockdown.

This lockdown will allow a maximum of six people from a maximum of two households to meet during the day. In addition to bars and restaurants, gyms, sports halls and other venues will also be closed. Events and other activities, such as visits to the zoo, are no longer possible. The lockdown also has consequences for ski resorts in Austria: Ski resorts will only be opened for professional purposes – i.e. for professional sports. The glacier ski resorts of Hintertux, Sölden, Kitzsteinhorn, Dachstein, Pitztal, Kaunertal, Stubai, Mölltal as well as the piste in Kitzbühel, which were already open, will also have to cease operations for the time being to the end of November. As soon as the lockdown has been lifted, the season will start again. Protection concepts such as compulsory masks and keeping your distance will then continue to be part of this winter.

Après-ski is over: fun skiing, for sure, but without the party

After a great day on the piste, time for a pub crawl? When the sun disappears behind the mountains and it gets dark outside, the majority of skiers are drawn to the well-attended pubs and bars. Live music, good food and a drink or two. For most people, après-ski is as much a part of a winter holiday as skiing itself. And some even travel to the well-known hotspots such as Ischgl, Kitzbühel, St. Anton or Zell am See just for that reason.

Crazy fun and party fever in the huts, bars or pubs of the ski areas – that's what we know and love. But what does the corona virus mean for après-ski and its fans?

Recently, the number of infections in Austria had again risen massively. The government has reacted to this situation and presented their concept for winter tourism on Thursday, 24 September. Probably the most decisive measure in this context is: parties and après-ski will not take place in the 2020/21 season. At the press conference with Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz presented the strategy for the coming ski season. Dancing, singing and socialising in bars, pubs or restaurants should be renounced. The risk of infection would be too high. All potential sources of infection should be avoided. This was also welcomed by Günther Platter, the governor of Tyrol. The après-ski branch would only account for three percent of winter tourism in the Austrian province. The health and safety of holidaymakers and day tourists is more important. Only then could one be sure that the ski season would be a complete success. Sebastian Kurz emphasised that winter sports should still be possible in the Austrian Alpine regions. Only the subsequent celebrations in bars and pubs will not take place.

Obligation to wear masks & distancing rules – ski area measures

For many holidaymakers, important questions remain unresolved. Nonetheless, the organisers are busy receiving bookings.
Meanwhile the ski resorts are preparing for the coming season. After what happened in March, mistakes must be avoided at all costs. We need well thought-out and very precise plans for the 2020/21 winter.

  • The cableways are to be disinfected using cold fogging equipment. The same procedure is to be used for toilets, ski shops and medical supply stations on the slopes.
  • For the employees in the ski resorts there should be opportunities for testing on a regular basis – but especially before or shortly after arrival. All lift employees will have their temperature taken daily before starting work.
  • Waste water will be monitored at regular intervals for traces of Covid-19.

What you should be aware of as a winter sportsperson  

"Stay safe together" – To make sure we all get through the 2020/21 ski season in good health, you should know what the rules are and stick to them. For your safety and that of everyone else!

You should follow these rules in all ski areas:

  • Keep sufficient distance
  • Wear mouth-nose protection
  • Disinfect hands
  • Ensure ventilation of the room/lift
  • Correct disposal of tissues & disposable masks
  • Do not shake hands
  • Sneezing/coughing into the crook of your arm or a handkerchief
  • Observe employees´ instructions

The mobile phone as a ski ticket

Reduce the possibility of infection: this is the aim of the measures taken for Covid-19. More and more new gadgets are coming onto the market to ensure that mountain railways and lifts can operate safely for their guests. Bluetooth Low Energy radio technology is now being used as a digital alternative to the classic ski ticket.

1. the purchase takes place completely online.

2. when the skier enters the reading area of the gate, the mobile phone connects automatically via Bluetooth.

3. the ticket is checked.

4. the gate then opens automatically.

5. this enables contactless access.

During access, the mobile phone remains in the jacket and the gloves remain on. No waiting at the ticket desk and no danger of getting too close to anyone. In the coming season, the mobile phone ticket will be tested in six countries across Europe.

To be sure: you have to be prepared for some changes in the coming season. Wear masks, disinfect your hands and keep your distance. Those responsible in the ski areas are working flat out on safety and hygiene concepts so that we can ski again after the current Corona break. If we all stick to the measures and respect our fellow human beings, nothing stands in the way of a safe and healthy winter. The SPORT 2000 team is looking forward to a great 2020/21 ski season!

We want you to be well informed and stay healthy. Therefore, this article will be updated regularly. Last update: 03 November, 2020