Austrian prosecutors rule no criminal charges over Ischgl Covid-19 outbreak

Austrian prosecutors rule no criminal charges over Ischgl Covid-19 outbreak
The Tyrolean town of Ischgl was the focus of a recent investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak in spring 2020. Photo credit: Joe Klamar/AFP.
In spring 2020, Ischgl famously became a hotspot for Covid-19 infections. Following an investigation into the outbreak, Austrian prosecutors say that no one will be charged.

Austrian prosecutors said on Wednesday that they would not charge anyone criminally over last year’s coronavirus outbreak at the popular Alpine ski resort where thousands of international tourists were infected. 

A consumer group representing many of the victims slammed the decision, alleging that officials failed to adequately warn and protect the tourists.

Some of the holidaymakers caught the virus during hasty evacuations days after the first case in a crammed tourist bar.  

“The investigations into the spread of corona in Ischgl in spring 2020 have been discontinued. There is no charge,” the Innsbruck prosecutor’s office said in a statement. 

“There is no evidence that anyone culpably did anything or failed to do anything to increase the risk of contagion.”

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The office already decided against charges in May, but the decision had to be approved by a higher authority, the statement said. 

Five people, including four local officials, had been placed under investigation in Innsbruck over the outbreak.   

Prosecutors said they questioned 27 people and compiled 15,000 pages of evidence in an “extensive review”.   

The head of the VSV consumer protection association, Peter Kolba, said his group was seeking to challenge the prosecutors’ decision and do “everything in its power to uncover” official failings.   

“I have the impression that a government scandal is being largely hushed up,” Kolba said in a statement.   

In September, a court in Vienna began hearing civil lawsuits by claimants from Austria and Germany who accuse authorities of not responding quickly enough to outbreaks in Ischgl and other resorts in Tyrol province.   

Of the 6,000 people from 45 countries who claim to have contracted the virus in Ischgl and the surrounding area, 5 percent suffer from symptoms of long Covid, according to the VSV. In total, 32 people have died.

While expressing sympathy for the victims and their relatives, authorities have denied they acted too slowly or that any more could have been done at the time.

READ ALSO: ‘My opinion of Austria has changed’: How foreign residents feel about the pandemic response

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