| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Trial over COVID-19 outbreak in Austria’s ‘Ibiza of the Alps’ begins

On Friday, a trial began in Vienna regarding an epidemic of the coronavirus in the ski resort of Ischgl in early 2020, in which Austrian officials are accused of responding too slowly, presumably due to tourist pressure.

Ischgl had Austria’s largest outbreak, which helped spread the virus across Europe.

Hundreds of Austrians were infected, and thousands of foreign tourists claim they were as well, after the virus found a breeding ground in the resort’s busy apres-ski bars, dubbed the “Ibiza of the Alps.”

In the case, the first of more than a dozen civil lawsuits brought by a consumer rights group, the widow and son of a man who died after being exposed to the coronavirus in Ischgl are seeking 100,000 euros ($117,780) in damages from the Austrian government.

The private Consumer Protection Association (VSV), which has brought the case against the government, says authorities mishandled the response to the outbreak, possibly giving in to pressure from the tourism sector not to act initially.

The authorities in the province of Tyrol say they responded appropriately given what was known at the time.

Ischgl’s first case was detected on March 7, 2020, days after Iceland said that tourists had been infected there and 11 days after Austria’s first infections were confirmed.

Austria’s public health agency has since said it believes the virus arrived in Ischgl far earlier, on Feb. 5.

  • Reuters