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Patrick Thorne

26 Apr 21

Austrian Glacier Ski Areas Opening in May as Restrictions Eased

Patrick Thorne

26 Apr 21

A number of Austrian glaciers have decided to open in May since the country’s government have announced that hospitality should be able to re-open from the 19th.

Unlike in France and Italy, Austrian ski areas have been able to run their lifts all winter, but they have not been allowed any ski tourism, just visitors from locals on day trips.  As a result most ski areas have lost money opening and some, including a number of glaciers, decided not to open at all. The country’s ski lift operators association recently published business figures showing revenue down more than €1 billion on winter 2019-20 (that winter also down 9% on the previous winter due to it ending early with the first lockdown).

However with the announcement that hospitality can re-open The Kaunertal glacier, which normally stays open in to June but has been closed all winter, says it will re-open from May 15th.

 The Molltal glacier (pictured above) says it will re-open on the 22nd then stay open all spring, summer and autumn, all being well.

In addition the Pitztal glacier (pictured above), also in the Tirol region, has said it plans to stay open in to June – it normally ends its season in late April.

A third Tirol region, Hintertux, is open year-round, weather and pandemic lockdowns permitting.

The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun near Zell am See (below) had planned to close mid-May but now says its ski slopes will stay open into July.

The Stubai glacier near Innsbruck however has said it will be closed in May and June due to planned maintenance.

In addition to announcing the reopening of hospitality, at a press conference the Austrian federal government said entry requirements to the country will include the need to provide proof of a past Covid-19 illness, a negative Covid-19 test result or a vaccination certificate.

The rules for travel from the UK after 17th May are yet to clarified.  At this point it is unknown whether international leisure travel will definitely be allowed again then from the UK. If so it is unknown what difference there may be in rules from the different UK nations, whether Alpine ski nations will be in green, amber or red categories and whether the rules for travel to and from each colour category will change from what they were before the second lockdown. There is also the question of what rules Alpine nations that allow incoming travel from the UK put in place regarding testing, vaccination and quarantine requirements. The UK’s decision to move outside both the EU and wider Schengen travel free travel area may further complicate matters. What travel routes may be open and what insurance cover available are additional factors for anyone resident in the UK thinking of summer skiing this year to consider, if it becomes possible at all.  The British government has indicated that some of these issues may be clarified in early May at least for travel from England.