Except for ski slopes and ice rinks, Austria's cities and villages look like ghost towns. It is the country's third hard lockdown, and stores, restaurants and schools have been ordered to close. But the country has reopened its ski resorts, despite the national lockdown, as recreational sports such as snowboarding and skiing are excluded from the imposed restrictions.
Neighboring Germany and Italy had demanded ski resorts be shut across Europe during the holidays, but many countries such as Austria and Switzerland have so far refused. With strict travel rules in place, at least locals are able to enjoy some fun on the slopes like the one at Goldeck mountain in southern Austria.
At the weekend, many Austrian ski resorts reached capacity limits and access roads had to be closed by local police. But visitors had to provide their own food as mountain huts remain closed in accordance with safety precautions. In addition, extra filtering FFP2 masks are mandatory inside gondolas.
"We are wearing these FFP2 is masks - this is simply to protect against aerosols that could obviously accumulate in gondola cabins, which is why I'm incredibly grateful that our guests are very disciplined in complying with this requirement, and I believe that if we do it this way, then skiing is completely harmless and healthy even in times like these," says Marcus Kaller, Managing Director at Goldeck Bergbahnen.
According to Austrian authorities, it is psychologically important for people to be able to recharge their batteries in the fresh air.
Watch Euronews's report from our reporter Johannes Pleschberger from lLke Weissensee in the player above.