The top Tirolean ski resort of Ischgl is pulling out all the stops to safeguard the health and safety of skiers, boarders, employees and locals in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the lifestyle resort gears up for the new winter season - which starts on November 26 - the decision makers in the Paznaun-Ischgl valley have devised a comprehensive package of measures including C-19 testing for locals and visitors alike.
OUT go the popular Top Of The Mountain opening concert, crowded après-ski bars and full cable cars.
IN come virus testing, free ski buffs and regular disinfecting of cable cars, buses and shops.
'Health is the top priority,' said Mayor Werner Kurz. 'We want the focus to be on nature and our extensive top ski resort which extends right into Samnaun in Switzerland.'
Ischgl boasts 239 km of perfectly groomed slopes, covering 500 hectares - which is equivalent to 700 football pitches - and 45 high-tech skilifts. Free Ischgl-branded ski buffs will be given out with every skipass, which satisfy the requirement for mouth and nose coverings to be worn in public, on skilifts and designated areas. A 6-day adult skipass for guests staying in Ischgl costs from 212 euros in the upcoming season.
All cable car cabins, ski buses, sports shops and other public facilities will be regularly and frequently disinfected with cold mist devices to eliminate 99.99% of viruses, bacteria and spores; queuing areas are to be set out to prevent close groups of people gathering; numbers entering bars and restaurants will be limited to allow social distancing.
Guests who arrive without a negative C-19 test that is less than 72 hours old can have a test at the local screening station - or in some cases at their hotel - and can request a test before leaving the village. Results will be available within a few hours. The charge for testing has not yet been fixed.
Sewage monitoring - an initiative by the Tirol state authority in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck - is expected to enable potential infection to be identified at an early stage.
The legendary Top Of The Mountain opening concert regularly draws in a crowd of around 20,000, with global stars appearing including Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, James Blunt and The Beach Boys. An alternative event is to be announced.
'It is our core concern to ensure the highest possible safety levels in the ski resort by implementing appropriate health and hygiene measures,' said Günther Zangerl of the Ischgl lift company Silvrettaseilbahn AG. 'The measures are in line with the current legal regulations but also to a large extent go significantly beyond these minimum requirements.'