Austria extends lockdown of Tyrol ski resorts

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FILE PHOTO: Cars queue into Paznaun valley (Paznauntal), after the government announced a 14-day quarantine of the Paznaun valley and the St. Anton ski resort as cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) appeared, in See, Austria March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Liebl

VIENNA (Reuters) - A lockdown of Austrian ski resorts that have become hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus in Europe will be extended until Easter Monday, the governor of the province of Tyrol said on Thursday.

“This regulation will be extended... until April 13, then we will be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the republic of Austria,” said Guenther Platter, referring to a country-wide call for people to stay at home.

People in the ski resorts, that include Ischgl, St. Anton, St. Christoph and Soelden, would only be allowed to leave if they can provide permits from the ministries of foreign affairs and health, Platter said.

Austria has reported nearly 6,400 cases in its nine provinces, a quarter of them in Tyrol.

Austrian economic research institute Wifo warned on Thursday that the economy could shrink by 2.5% this year in a best-case scenario.

The calculation was based on assumptions that lockdown measures are eased in May and daily life is back to normal by the summer, Wifo chief Christoph Badelt said.

Badelt predicts Austria to record a Maastrich deficit of 5.4% and an unemployment rate of 8.4% this year.

More than 150,000 people have registered as newly unemployed since March 15, many of them from the hospitality and services sector, according to employment agency AMS, although the government has launched a 38 billion euros aid package and promised generous support for short-time working agreements.

Joining large employers like Austrian Airlines, steelmaker Voestalpine and construction group Strabag, state rail operator OBB on Thursday said it would reduce working hours for up to 30% of its more than 40,000 staff after passenger transport came down 90%.