The first trial has started in Vienna over the COVID-19 epidemic among tourists at the ski resort of Ischgl. In 2020, thousands of people became infected there and 32 died. The first infections could have taken place at the beginning of February last year. Relatives of the victims sued the Republic of Austria, arguing that the authorities had warned too late about the epidemic.
Over 200 kilometers of ski slopes, numerous bars, restaurants and live concerts. Ischgl, known as “Ibiza Alp”, is the resort town of Austrian Tyrol, visited annually by half a million tourists. It is also considered by many to be the zero point for the COVID-19 epidemic in Europe.
It probably all started with one of the bars. One of his employees was due to contract COVID-19 in late February. On March 6 he tested positive, but no one responded. The bar was not closed until four days later, and the city was closed after three consecutive days, ie on March 13. Hundreds of guests from all over the world gathered in the restaurant every evening for these few days.
When tourists from Denmark, Iceland, Great Britain, Germany and Norway, among others, began to return home, it turned out that many of them had been diagnosed with the virus. In 2020 alone, thousands of people became infected in the resort, and 32 died. Since then, a total of more than 6,000 victims from 45 countries contacted consumer protection authorities regarding an infection in Ischgl.
The first trial due to the slowness of the authorities over the epidemic
The first trial concerns a 72-year-old Austrian who was reportedly contracted the coronavirus in Ischgl in March 2020. His widow and his son are seeking compensation from the Republic of Austria in the amount of EUR 100,000.
The plaintiffs are supported by the Vienna Consumer Protection Association. – We accuse the Republic of inefficiency at all levels of administration. This starts with the municipality of Ischgl, further from the county administration of Landeck, the province of Tyrol, but also at the federal level through the federal chancellor and also through the ministers, said the president of the association, Peter Kolba.
The late Austrian’s widow and son say that the county, state and federal authorities warned too late about the pandemic and closed the region around Ischgl too late to tourism. Kolba puts it this way: People put economy over health.
The allegations also include the fact that the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced a quarantine for the Paznaun Valley at a press conference on March 13, 2020, and the province of Tyrol was not prepared for it. As a result, tourists left unchecked and transferred the virus to their countries.
The Financial Prosecutor’s Office, which represents Austria in this trial, points out that the 72-year-old’s tragic death was solely due to a worldwide pandemic and was in no way approved or caused by the authorities of the Republic of Austria.
The head of the Consumer Protection Association from Vienna confirmed that 15 civil lawsuits have already been filed against the Austrian state, and another 100 are planned. The defense attorney claims that it would be best if an out-of-court settlement was reached. However, an open letter to Chancellor Kurz with a proposal for talks was not answered, the media inform.
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