Ischgl becomes the first Austrian ski resort to close its gates due to the coronavirus outbreak. Operation at the ski area will be suspended starting Saturday, March 14, 2020. Tyrol's state government announced the news on Wednesday evening. Over 15 people have been diagnosed with the virus after visiting the resort in the last few days. Many of them caught the virus from an infected bar keeper in an après-ski pub. Following that discovery, all après-ski bars had already been closed on Wednesday, March 11. Operators of the ski resorts had originally planned to keep the areas open until May, but will now have to close early.
First the bars, now the entire resort
After the virus was passed on from a bar keeper at the “Kitzloch” pub to at least 15 people, all après-ski bars in Ischgl were closed on Wednesday. Lifts and buses were only allowed to be filled halfway. Several concerts have been canceled, one of them being the Top of the Mountain Easter Concert with Sido which was set to take place on April 12.
Update: The season closing concert with Eros Ramazzotti on May 2 was canceled as well.
Nine new cases of the coronavirus were reported over the course of the day in the neighboring ski village Kappl, several of them being ski and snowboard instructors. There are currently 302 people in Austria that have tested positive for coronavirus, 81 of them living in Tyrol.
Local government takes first safety measures
As a result of the rising number of infections, the state government of Tyrol decided to shut down the ski resort in Ischgl. The resort will close on Saturday, March 14, meaning Friday will be the last day to ski. Günther Platter, head of the Tyrolean government, stated on Wednesday that while it was a drastic measure, it was taken to protect guests, staff and ultimately the entire population. The chain of infection needed to be stopped, he argued.
Update: Suspension of ski operation was originally planned to only last 14 days. It has now been announced that the ski season will be ended on March 13, almost two months earlier than planned. The season was originally set to go on until May 3, 2020.
The resort posts updates about current developments and restrictions on its website. For any questions about accommodations you've already booked, it's best you contact your host directly. Ski operation will continue until Friday, but you can give back ski passes for the remaining two days of the season in return for vouchers.
The neighboring resorts of Galtür, Kappl and See are allowed to continue operating for now (as of March 11). The Samnaun side of the Silvretta Arena (Switzerland) is also open without restrictions at the moment. As long as only the Swiss side remains open, lift tickets will be sold at a reduced price (at children's rates) starting March 14.
Update: Galtür ski resort will also close for two weeks on Saturday, March 14.
Rising number of cancellations in Tyrol
Ischgl is the only Austrian resort that has been closed due to the spread of the coronavirus so far. The covid-19 outbreak has made itself noticeable in the rest of the country as well, though. The number of cancellations in Tyrol has increased significantly during the last week, said Florian Phleps, head of Tirol Werbung. There were also hardly any more new reservations.
All ski resorts in Italy closed
Earlier this week, the new virus had already forced all Italian ski resorts and hotels to close their gates. The situation in Italy remains very tense. 196 people died of coronavirus in a single day, the number of fatal cases rising to 827. There are more than 10,000 reported cases of covid-19 in Italy.