Ban of all Covid Restrictions – Is Freedom Day coming to the Austrian Alps?

Article written by CARMEN WEISSENSTEIN

It is soon going to be two years since the current Covid-19 pandemic started and turned our lives upside down. During the last two year we gradually adapted to the so-called new reality and came to terms with all the restrictions and rules introduced by the governments all over the world. Who would have thought a few years ago that someday countries worldwide will be going into lockdowns and will, moreover, be closing their borders due to a highly infectious virus? If you ask me, I would have laughed at such assumptions and would have considered them as rather unlikely to come true and would even have held them for being part of a script for some science fiction movie. While in the beginning we thought things will settle down and the world would soon be going back to normal, i.e. as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic, we somewhat gave up this idea since every now and then a new virus variant surfaced and crushed everyone’s hopes about the former.

Nonetheless, rumours about an approaching end of all Covid measures surfaced about a few weeks ago and they have been getting louder and louder in the past few days. Everybody has been talking about a ‘Freedom Day’, which would be a breaking point for the abolishment of all Covid restrictions and would set people free again. As far as Austria is concerned, these rumours were confirmed at yesterday’s press conference held by the Austrian Government. The latter announced that all measures would be lifted: night gastronomy would open again, events would be allowed to take place without any restrictions, gastronomy, hotels and co. could be visited by everyone – and without any proof – again, and most importantly the entry regulations for Austria would be loosened. Whereas, at the moment a proof of double-vaccination/recovery is required as well as a negative Covid PCR-Test or a booster dose is needed, in the future, unvaccinated and not recovered people will also be allowed to enter the country.

So, what does this mean for the hospitality business? Hoteliers unanimously agree that the ban of all restrictions and the loosened entry regulations are an important step for Austria as a holiday destination, and that the latter should be completely eliminated in the long term. Moreover, the loosening of Covid measures is a crucial step towards normality and additionally, an important and trusting signal for the domestic and foreign guests to choose Austria as a holiday destination amongst other European destinations. It can be established that each loosening of Covid measures leads to a noticeable increase in booking requests in Austrian hotels. Furthermore, the ban of restrictions can be seen as a necessary act for the hospitality sector to recover from the colossal losses of the past two years due to the numerous and long-lasting lockdowns. Everybody is hoping and praying for a successful summer season in the hotel industry and that the latter will get back in the saddle and will anew have the opportunity to reach the turnover level of the pre-Covid year 2019 and return to days of well filled, sun-glazed terasses and busy apres ski bars!

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