The ski season 2020/2021 is already proving to be a very special year. This time the season will be shorter by two months and will run tentatively from 07/10 January 2021 to April 2021. Ski tourism is not just an important part of Austria's economy, but also part of its national identity. In this article you will find important dates for the upcoming season in Austria and new entry regulations
(Information provided according to official Austrian sources as of 10 December 2020).
When will the ski season start in 2020/2021?
At the December press conference, the Austrian government extended the closure regime for hotels and restaurants in the country until 07 January 2021. In fact, this also means a date for the postponement of the ski season for the day when regions will be able to provide accommodation and meals to tourists. Slightly more fortunate are those living directly next to the resorts. Under the wording 'for sport', the slopes and lifts will start operating as early as 24 December 2020. But only those living nearby or with real estate/residence in the region will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. A day trip from Vienna to the slopes is possible, but it takes about 9-10 hours round trip, and the hotels for tourist purposes will be closed, as mentioned above, until 07 January 2021.
When will the ski season start for foreign tourists?
On 07 January 2021, resorts will be able to receive guests. But does this apply to foreign tourists? As of 09 December 2020, citizens of Austria or foreigners permanently residing in the country, as well as citizens of the countries listed below, may enter Austria without having a negative PCR test and undergoing quarantine. A prerequisite is that you have only been in the listed countries in the last 10 days. You must document this in the case of an inspection. If you have been in other high-risk countries within the last 10 days, you will need a negative PCR test result not older than 72 hours when entering Austria. If this is not possible, you will have to undergo a ten-day quarantine.
European countries, outside the risk area
(until 19 December 2020 & after 10 January 2021):
- Belgium (except the areas of Brussels and Wallonia)
- Bulgaria (except the regions Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Jambol, Kardzhali, Montana, Plovdiv, Rasgrad, Shumen, Sliven, Smoljan, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Targovishte, Varna)
- Croatia (the regions Brod-Posavina, Istria, Koprivnica-Križevci, Osijek-Baranja, Šibenik-Knin, Varaždin, and Zadar only)
- France (except Île-de-France (Paris), Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur)
- Portugal (except Lisbon and Norte)
- San Marino
- the Canary Islands in Spain
- United Kingdom (except North East, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber)
- Vatican City
Countries in the world outside the risk area
(until 19 December 2020 & after 10 January 2021):
- New Zealand
- South Korea
If you are entering Austria from an EU/EEA country which is not listed above, you must provide a negative PCR test result upon arrival or go for a ten-day quarantine. If the COVID-19 test performed after 5 days of quarantine gives a negative result, the quarantine can be terminated early.
Entry from all other countries not mentioned above is generally prohibited. Exceptions are, for example, citizens of Austria, EU/EEA countries, Switzerland and the UK, as well as permanent residents.
Countries at risk:
(as of 10 December 2020)
- Belgium (Brussels and Wallonia regions only)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Bulgaria (only regions Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Dzhambol, Kardzhali, Montana, Plovdiv, Rasgrad, Shumen, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Targovishte, Varna)
- United Kingdom (Northeast, East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions only)
- China (Hubei Province only)
- Costa Rica
- Spain (excluding Canary Islands)
- Portugal (Lisbon and Norte regions only)
- Russian Federation
- North Macedonia
- United States of America.
- France (Ile-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions only)
- Croatia (excluding the regions of Brod-Posavina, Istria, Koprivnica-Krijevci, Osijek-Baranja, Sibenik-Knin, Varazdin, Zadar)
- South Africa
!Special situation from 19 December to 10 January 2021!
However, special rules will apply from 19 December 2020 until, tentatively, 10 January 2021. The risk zones will not be defined by the above list, but classified on the basis of positive cases in a 14-day period. All countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants are classified as risk zones. Almost all countries, except Ireland, Iceland and parts of Norway, Finland and Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands), are classified as risk areas.
During this period, everyone coming to Austria from an at-risk zone, regardless of whether or not they have a test, is obliged to undergo a ten-day quarantine. After 5 days of quarantine, a test can be carried out and the quarantine can be terminated early if the test result is negative.
Open borders within the European Union:
It should be mentioned that at the moment control on the border with Austria within the EU is carried out only selectively. As a result, compliance with the above regulations is also only monitored selectively. However, in the case of boarder control, you will need to documentary evidence of compliance. It is also worth considering that from 19 December 2020, it is possible to introduce a regime of enhanced border control, as it was in the spring of this year.
The situation with the issuance of tourist visas abroad:
Currently (09 December 2020), consular departments abroad do not accept applications for visas to enter Austria for tourism purposes. The exception is family members of Austrian citizens, employees of diplomatic missions, as well as citizens who need to travel for medical purposes. This means that foreign tourists currently cannot obtain a tourist visa to Austria or enter the country with an existing visa for tourism purposes.
It is advisable to find out more about the provisions for entry from your country on the website of the Austrian Embassy in your region.
The decision on the start date for issuing tourist visas by foreign consulates has not yet been made.
Thus, at the moment we have the following important dates for the ski season in Austria:
- On 24 December 2020, the Austrian slopes will open for sports. Hotels and restaurants will remain closed.
- Hotels and restaurants will open at the resorts on 07 January 2021. From this day on, the ski season will open to domestic tourism.
- After 10 January 2021, foreign tourists will also be able to visit the country, without going through quarantine, if their region is not included in the risk zone.
- Special period: from 19 December 2020 to 10 January 2021, all those entering the country from the risk zone, regardless of the presence of the test, must go to a 10-day quarantine. After 5 days of quarantine, you can do a test and end quarantine early if the test result is negative. The risk zone during this period includes almost all countries. Due to these measures, tourist trips to Austria during this period are de facto impossible.
However, it should be noted that the ski season in Austria lasts until April. And despite its reduction this season, we still have a full February and March 2021. And since the situation is constantly changing, we very much hope that from January 2021 it will gradually begin to change only for the better.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones!