Thousands of corona cases of the first wave are said to have originated in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl. Now survivors of corona deaths are suing the Republic of Austria.
Vienna – “These areas will be isolated with immediate effect.” The lean sentence from Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) in a press conference on the spread of the corona virus on March 13, 2020 hit the mark.
Many tourists in the Tyrolean ski resorts of Ischgl, Galtür or St. Anton am Arlberg – these areas were meant – heard the news while skiing and wanted to escape a possible quarantine by leaving immediately. Infected people drove home under chaotic conditions and thus contributed to the spread of the virus across Europe. An Austrian journalist took the bus to the train station. It was a dangerously long drive due to traffic jams. Shortly afterwards he died of Covid-19.
On September 17, the widow and her son sue for 100,000 euros in damages, the first of many proceedings, including German plaintiffs, against the Republic of Austria. The so-called official liability suit sees a failure by the authorities who warned about the virus too late and acted too late. “I estimate that in the end up to 3,000 claims will be made against the republic,” says Peter Kolba from the consumer protection association (VSV) in Vienna, who looks after the plaintiffs. The SAAM intends to bring class actions. On Friday the question will arise whether this number of claims should not be better resolved in settlement negotiations.
The VSV has also requested that the Chancellor, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, then Minister of Health Rudolf Anschober and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler be summoned as witnesses. “Kurz is a key witness,” says Kolba. He could say how the agreements between the state of Tyrol and the federal government in Vienna about the planned departure went. From the point of view of the VSV, Kurz pushed ahead with his press conference before the preparations in Ischgl for an orderly departure were completed. “More than 10,000 people left the valley, but contact tracing was only carried out in 2,600 cases using guest exit forms,” says Kolba.
The report of an independent commission of experts states: “This announcement (note: by the Chancellor) led to panic reactions among the guests and employees, which, according to the information provided by the respondents who were present at the hasty departure, they had never experienced before are. ”The chance to use the entire weekend staggered for departure was not taken. Mistakes were made in Ischgl, but no general failure could be identified, according to the report presented a year ago.
The Austrian Financial Procuratorate, which represents the legal interests of the state in court, has always emphasized that everything had been done right. In the debate about errors by the authorities, it also plays a role that knowledge about the virus at the beginning of the first Europe-wide wave was far from being as thorough as it is today. Kolba does not accept that. “Our strongest argument is that we should have closed the ski operation a week earlier,” he says, referring to the first cases of infection among Ischgl tourists at the beginning of March.
Ischgl’s party scene, its many après-ski bars, the alcohol-free partying – these images only reflect part of the ski resort. But they contributed to the fact that Ischgl was at times synonymous with suppressing corona dangers. The place and the state government have drawn the consequences. A celebration like in the past will no longer take place in these times, it was said several times. In the coming winter season, tourism minister Elisabeth Köstinger plans to have strict access rules, especially for après-ski.
Dörte Sittig, who lives near Cologne, has little of that. Your partner died of Corona after a vacation in Ischgl at the age of 52. Before her own court date, she wants to follow the first trial on Friday. She once said to the Cologne “Express”: “They let my husband run into the knife.” The local authority was not closed in time by the authorities. Many other communities reacted against it. dpa