Tourists sue Austrian government over mass outbreak at ski resort

Ski tourists sue Austrian government over mass outbreak at Ischgl in March that propelled the spread of coronavirus across Europe

  • Consumer rights group announced earlier today it had filed four civil lawsuits
  • Outbreak at ski resort in Ischgl was linked to coronavirus cases in 47 countries
  • Austrian authorities have said they acted based on what was known at the time

Tourists are suing the Austrian government over a mass outbreak of coronavirus at a ski resort in March that propelled the spread of Covid-19 across Europe.

A consumer rights group announced earlier today it had filed four civil lawsuits against the country following a Covid-19 outbreak in Ischgl, in the western Tyrol region, earlier this year.        

The outbreak at the ski resort in Ischgl, which calls itself the Ibiza of the Alps, was linked to cases in 47 countries after tourists returned home from crowded apres-ski bars.     

The group added that it hoped to bring at least one class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of people next year.

But Austrian authorities have said they acted based on what was known at the time. 

Tourists are suing the Austrian government over a mass outbreak of coronavirus at a ski resort in Ischgl (pictured) in March that propelled the spread of Covid-19 across Europe

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

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

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

The private Consumer Protection Association (VSV), a private organisation in Austria, argues they reacted too slowly and possibly gave in to pressure from the tourism sector not to act.

‘Yesterday I filed – on behalf of the VSV and the affected tourists or those they left behind – the first four lawsuits against the Republic of Austria at the Provincial Civil Court in Vienna,’ lawyer Alexander Klauser said in a VSV statement. 

The lawsuits were on behalf of individuals, the statement added, with at least three related to the Ischgl area. 

They are seeking damages of up to €100,000 (£92,000). 

The outbreak at the ski resort in Ischgl, which calls itself the Ibiza of the Alps, was linked to cases in 47 countries after tourists returned home from crowded apres-ski bars (pictured)

The VSV described the four civil suits as test cases and said that more than 6,170 people from different countries had signed up for potential class action suits next year. 

The latest tally includes tourists from 47 countries, including Britain, the United States and the Netherlands, though most are in Germany.   

The VSV has also written to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in an open letter urging him to agree to a settlement because such lawsuits could take ‘years if not decades’.   

Kurz’s conservatives also lead the provincial government in Tyrol. 

Kurz himself announced an immediate quarantine in Ischgl and the surrounding Paznaun Valley on March 13, though tourists were allowed to leave, further fuelling the spread of the virus in what the VSV called a ‘chaotic’ process. 

Source: Read Full Article