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What is the current situation regarding travel to Austria

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Was just thinking about the end of last season, and the potential for this. I had a very nice photo of a snowy lift station and message from a well known Austrian ski town tourist board welcoming us back this winter, kind of ironic that these same people weren't a great deal of support on 13th March when we were being run out of town and shoved into buses (at our own expense) to leave the country. Clearly wanting us back now. That said i'm eager to claim my 10% discount for our season passes offer given that we had to cancel future return plans last year, Easter etc.....oh yeah that's a great offer that i'll not be realising this season! (not serious btw I know there's a pandemic on before anyone herrangs me for being flippant - the woohoo, its snowing FB message at 6.30am sort of wound me up rather than had me feeling all fuzzy about ski days ahead).
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@Markymark29, I can see how that would wind you up (it winds me up too), but to be fair to the tourist board they had no more information on the unfolding situation than you did, as was confirmed by the investigation. I understand your anger, but direct it at federal govt who did not communicate their plans in advance, and thus entirely caused the chaos.
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@Scarlet, it’s not anger, merely disappointment, and lack of open and honest communication. It’s taught me to be less open and quite sceptical from that point on and changed my viewpoint of some things tbph.

Btw I know the official announcement mid afternoon Friday triggered the closure but there were things happening in town that week that in hindsight made it clear to me that there was aN organised plan afoot. Indeed we were told by friends on the Thursday morning we should get out in no uncertain terms......I’ll tell you about it sometime, deffo not on here though.
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@Markymark29, Seems to me there is some front on the part of towns that actively ran visitors out of town in quite a hostile way using mechanisms that were almost bound to ensure that any infections among the visitor population spread to others. I can sort of see that there is a problem logistically with doing a mass evacuation and that leaking too much about the plans in advance might hinder not help that evacuation plan as people skipped town in unnotified ways. But there ought at least to be some sort of apology/contrition for having done things badly in crisis mode and some sort of guarantees over a minimum standard of future treatment.
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@Markymark29, the news went out on Thursday 12th March that the ski areas would be closing on Sunday 15th March and that hotels should arrange for guests to leave within that time frame. It seemed to go fairly smoothly here, and of course with rising infection numbers and the situation across the border in Italy, it didn't really come as a big shock. I realise some tourists seemed less aware of the situation, maybe those with language difficulties, although the information was given here in German, Dutch and English. Plus most tourists were on weekly bookings which ended on 14th March anyway. There were a few arrivals on 14th March who got one day of skiing, then made their way home. I assume you had planned to leave your ski town after 15th March and were told to leave sooner?
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@queenie pretty please, Yeah, that was the plan but afaik, St Anton and Ischgl closed mid-Friday (@Markymark29 will know the details) with no notice at all because that was not communicated from Vienna. There was no time at that point to put an evacuation plan into operation, tourists were just told to pack up and leave, when many would not have had the means to until the weekend. There was nothing smooth about it, and there are no language difficulties in either town.
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@Scarlet, yes I see. Those were the areas that were placed in immediate quarantine weren't they, hence the need for rapid evacuation. Flachau was placed in quarantine from the Sunday too, but 90% of guests had gone by then.
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I was annoyed by the authorities in Saalbach, they had covid in the village from the start if March, at least one group of Brits were reported to have it, but they refused to say which hotels were affected and the hotel/hotels with them continued to operate. For all I know I ended up at that very hotel. I did then fall ill with covid on my return home with symptoms showing up on the 17th.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, @queenie pretty please, As mentioned above i'm not going to go into the specifics on here, however we were due to leave on Saturday 14th and were still up the mountain as late as 3pm on the Friday 13th when the announcement was made on TV, nothing on the mountain. Hindsight is an exact science and if I'd have been there now I'd have done things much differently, but it was clear to see the situation unravelling thoughout the week and at not point were we officially told of the situation (probably to avoid a stampede and imv to extract the final coffers out of the tourists), lets just say that there was less than transparency and leave it there. I speak decent German, enough to do most things I need to do in resort/ travelling and at no point was it made official that an impending evacuation was imminent, despite my asking. We found that out via other sources earlier in the week but the timing was unknown so what are you supposed to do? One final point, the haphazard way that the evacuation took place exposed us and many others to Covid - myself/ my OH and one other of our party got Covid 6-7 days later, one very seriously and we've still got long CV symptoms ongoing - we were super careful that week, and we were only compromised on leaving by virtue of the haphazard way the evacuation took place. It was a horrendous experience and as mentioned changed my view on various aspects of the area I very much like and have spent tens of thousands at over the years, very shoddy treatment. When I say I will not be travelling to the area again during the pandemic that's 100% because of the above, bitten once but not again. Investigations may come and go, so do tourists, some potentially might choose to spend their hard earned elsewhere....


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 20-11-20 12:42; edited 1 time in total
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@turms1, whilst @stanton can sometimes post useful information, he (the assumption is that that he is male) generally posts rubbish. The best thing to do is ignore him. His comments on Holland could well be about right (he is supposed to be a Dutch taxi driver mostly living in Zürich) but he does not have much understanding of German politics.
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@Markymark29, what should have be done differently do you think? Given that the decision to close the ski areas on Sunday 15th was made on Thursday 12th? Was the decision to quarantine the Paznaun and Arlberg valleys on Friday 13th made before then? In the Ischgl report it suggests that the quarantine was imposed within 24 hours of the decision so it seems unlikely that anyone would have had much prior knowledge.
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Have plans been published as to how they would deal with this if/when it happens again? Locking tourists in accommodation for example? Quarantining the town and testing over a number of days? Or sending everyone home to spread it around?
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@Bennyboy1, some larger hotels on town/village outskirts have been designated as "quarantine hotels" which together with a testing programme suggests that people who test positive will be moved to quarantine hotels with food and supplies left outside their doors. If a whole area has to be evacuated then it really isn't possible to put every person in a separate taxi. Most ski visitors to Austria arrive by car, those that do not will probably be tested, then either evacuated or quarantined. However, Austria has announced the beginning of the vaccination programme in January so things should gradually improve as the season progresses.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Can't they have a 'positive piste' as well, where covid positive people can also ski?! Razz
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@Markymark29, the Ischgl report published a few weeks back contained a lot of criticism of the Austrian government for the chaos it caused in both Ischgl and St Anton with the unplanned announcement at lunchtime on the 13th. Not only were the local councils not given any notice, no proper action was taken with the thousands of visitors who were eventually sent home (the various forms were not passed on to the other countries' health authorities). It was a panic decision taken in Vienna with little thought as to how to implement it on the ground. In Ischgl & St Anton plans were being made for an orderly close down (as happened elsewhere) but they were scuppered by Kurz's announcement, even the Police and ÖBB had no warning of the plan.

Agree that an apology should have been forthcoming from Sebastian Kurz but there is a good deal of blame passing between Innsbruck and Vienna over the events so doubt that will happen. I was supposed to be there that weekend but cancelled at the last minute due to concerns I had the virus (I believe I had a very mild infection but never had a test) as had been in contact with someone who had. In retrospect that was clearly a good thing as I would have arrived at Innsbruck station just after 15:00 on the Friday which was presumably a scene of considerable chaos and a disarray at that time.

The irony is that the botched shutdown would have done more to spread the virus than if the shutdown had proceeded as planed!
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@queenie pretty please, Some context.....heavily armed police shut the train station at 13.00 Friday and stopped trains stopping from that point despite people having tickets and resulting chaos, people still buying train tickets, as they pulled the shutters down. Police vehicles driving around with sirens wailing wearing masks and shouting at tourists to get out, road blocks at both ends of town, people running down the main road with suitcases crying and trying to bribe taxi drivers to just get them out, paperwork having to be stamped by the hotels and TO that was ultimately never used, chalet staff shouting on behalf of their clients and almost fights in the tourist office, kids crying all over the place, people running around in panic not knowing how they were going to get out, being told if they weren't out by 19.00 they would have to stay for 2 weeks in quarantine at their own cost. Hotel staff running out of hotels and trying to get home, huge queues of lifties trying to get out at the main bus station.....people driving cars with 6-7 people in them and luggage all in ski gear and ski boots, Dutch and German cars speeding all over town. Bars closing throughout the week prior and pulling the shutters down at 15.00 on Friday grabbing drinks off people.....not great by any stretch of the imagination, in short it was chaos, people were in panic, and not knowing how to get out. We actually went up the mountain at 14.00 for some lunch, realising we could do nothing and having seen the chaos we heard that there was a place we could get food, went up bought a lasagne, ate it and came down, actually think we were in shock!
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Plans for the Austrian mass testing programme have been published

https://liveblog.tt.com/414/coronavirus/86966/erste-massentests-starten-am-5-dezember

https://www.thelocal.at/20201120/austria-orders-seven-million-coronavirus-tests

In the Südtirol a population wide mass testing programme began today

https://www.thelocal.it/20201120/covid-19-italys-south-tyrol-region-begins-3-day-mass-testing-programme
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@Markymark29, yes it seems odd that the quarantine was imposed so suddenly. Perhaps due to pressure from other countries who were reporting cases from people returning from the Paznaun and Arlberg valleys. In Flachau the quarantine was announced on Friday 13th and imposed on Sunday 15th which gave time for an orderly exit although the police were involved there too.
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@queenie pretty please, flachau went into quarantine at midnight on 18th March. I think you are referring to the instruction to leave, which was indeed very ordered. In fact we went out for pizza on the Friday night before we left as planned on Saturday.

https://www.flachau.salzburg.at/Quarantaene_der_Gemeinde_Flachau_-_aktuelle_Informationen_1
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@holidayloverxx, yes that's what I meant. It seems to have been handled very differently to the quarantine in the Paznaun and Arlberg valleys.
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@queenie pretty please, what’s gone has gone, just makes me highly wary of getting caught again this season! wink
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queenie pretty please wrote:
@holidayloverxx, yes that's what I meant. It seems to have been handled very differently to the quarantine in the Paznaun and Arlberg valleys.


Which were handled in a pretty much unacceptable way for a supposedly civilized European country. Talk about arris from elbow - shutting down rail access but demanding tourist GTFO with zero clarity causing a mass spreading event by having panic and shouting and fighting for buses etc. Sounds like Ischgl was very similar to @markymark's account. Very much not a highspot in Austria's tourist tradition (though perhaps lower spots were in the 1930s)
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I know not much help for folk based in the UK but a German court has ruled the current German quarantine regulations illegal https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/corona-news-corona-hilfen-betrug-1.5116448 . I realise this is only in Nord Rhein Westphalia but if it is illegal there then it is likely to be illegal in the other Länder too. Maybe the regulations will be changed but from what I can understand here (I am hardly an expert on German law) the court is saying that if the likelihood of catching the virus is no higher or less in the place you are visiting than at home there is no basis for any quarantine. Not much help if you plan on visiting Innsbruck or the Zillertal but last I saw the virus level in St Anton (Bezirk Landeck) was pretty low, certainly lower than in most places in Germany.
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Salzburg & Kärnten going in the wrong direction again but overall things look to be improving slightly.

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This chart based on 45 days up to 21 November, going down based on positive test



Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Mon 23-11-20 9:47; edited 1 time in total
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7 Day incident based on 45 days, shows a slightly different picture for Salzburg and Karten

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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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Has anybody seen any of the videos by Dr Mike Yeadon, in which he suggests that the infection rate stats are misleading, owing to a high percentage of false positive results, and that in reality we no longer have a problem?
His theory appears to be supported by the fact that the number of deaths is not excessive for this time of the year.
If this is right, he would presumably say that the fluctuations shown by the above graphs are more likely to be attributable to the testing rate, rather than the infection rate.
Normally I’m sceptical of maverick scientific theories (especially when they smack of conspiracy theories); however Dr Yeadon is highly qualified, and his arguments appear to be cogent and persuasive.
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@tatmanstours, I haven’t but I am joy certain that that testament is true. Deaths (from what I can gather) tend to trail hospitalisation by several weeks and we are seeing those deaths now going up



There are also many reports of increased hospitalisation numbers. Which has been the main concern- ie hospitals being overwhelmed
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@NickyJ, yes, I haven’t got to the bottom of it. Dr Yeadon seems to have an answer and explanation for all the contra-indicators. Presumably he would say that, if the Covid-related death rate is going up, but the excess death rate is not, this lends support to his contention that the tests being used are picking up false positives - traces of inactive coronavirus that are not responsible for many of the deaths. I’m speculating and probably talking rubbish. However it’s worth listening to what he’s saying.
On your point about hospitals being overwhelmed, there also seem to be reports that there is still plenty of spare capacity, and that the so-called second wave is nothing like the genuine spike that was experienced during the first wave.
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@tatmanstours, this site collects data on mortality rates across Europe you can get to country detail as well.

https://www.euromomo.eu
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@radar, thanks, I’ll have a look. This is a paper published by Dr Yeadon in October:
https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong/
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I believe excess deaths are going up though?
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@Pastorius, do you have any source for that, or any percentage increase? If so, it would be interesting to hear what Dr Yeadon says about it.
I need to read his paper again when I have more time. It may be that he already has an explanation for any slow and relatively minor increase. Another dramatic spike would take some explaining though.
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Comparing the UK to say Austria - the UK looks to have had more deaths per day in the first wave, in Austria the reverse is true.

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DB wrote:
Comparing the UK to say Austria - the UK looks to have had more deaths per day in the first wave, in Austria the reverse is true.



I have read a view that the parameters of the effects of this virus are actually very similar worldwide, or at least in democratically open countries.

IE it doesn't really matter what they do in terms of restrictions or masks or anything really it affects and subsequently kills a very similar % of the population.

So for Austria vs UK is it the case that the formers relative escape in the Spring is being balanced out in the Autumn and early Winter.

Will be well in the future before we know but there might be something in that theory?
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tatmanstours wrote:
@Pastorius, do you have any source for that, or any percentage increase? If so, it would be interesting to hear what Dr Yeadon says about it.
I need to read his paper again when I have more time. It may be that he already has an explanation for any slow and relatively minor increase. Another dramatic spike would take some explaining though.


https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4500

"In the same week, all English regions and Wales had higher or the same overall deaths as the five year average. But while London saw no excess deaths and the south east had only 16 deaths (1%) more than the five year average, the north west saw 496 (35%) more deaths than would be expected, and Wales had 207, 33% higher than the five year average"

Wales and the North of England are the places that have been badly hit, which makes sense with the excess death stats being mid 30%.
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There seems to be a diversity of opinion amongst governments about opening ski resorts. Bavarian prime minister Markus Soder wants to keep them closed (at the moment rather moot as no actual snow on the horizon just yet) as does Giuseppe Conte the Italian PM. However the Austrian government seems intent on joining Switzerland in opening ski lifts https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/coronavirus-weltweit-usa-tote-1.5124037

(usual rubbish Google translate of the relevant paragraph)

Austria rejects Italy's demand. "I generally do not believe in the Italian proposal to close Austrian ski areas," said Finance Minister Gernot Blümel to the Reuters news agency. If the EU actually put a stop to winter tourism, they wanted compensation for failure, added the conservative politician. "If the EU actually pretends that the ski areas must remain closed, then that means costs of up to two billion euros," said Blümel. He was referring to a period of about a month around Christmas time.

Not sure where the commission gets involved in this as Brussels is not involved one way or the other and certainly isnt going to be dooling out compensation if countries or regions decide to keep their ski lifts closed, though there is always a tendency for Italian and Austrian politicians to publicly bicker Very Happy
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@munich_irish, sounds like measures for post December 6th are being discussed this week. Proposals include reopening shops, but not schools until after the Christmas holidays. Bars and restaurants remaining closed but ski areas can open subject to the agreed safety measures.

Up to 10 people for indoor Christmas gatherings, no New year fireworks, no large gatherings of any kind.
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@queenie pretty please, Marcus Soder is making suggestions that if the Austrian ski resorts open the border cant stay open, various blah about Ischgl etc.
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@munich_irish, yes I heard that too. The governor of Salzburg seems pretty happy to have the ski areas open in December purely for Austrian residents. There will be no après, so a repeat of the Ischgl scenario seems highly unlikely. Potentially all bars and restaurants will also remain shut.
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