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No charges over Austria ski resort COVID outbreak

November 24, 2021

Five people, including four local officials, had been under investigation after more than 6,000 people contracted the virus in the Tyrol region of Austria.

Ischgl street sign
Austria's Consumer Protection Association had accused authorities of "multi-organizational failure" over the outbreakImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Gruber

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they would not be filing criminal charges over a COVID-19 outbreak at a popular Austrian ski resort, where thousands of international tourists contracted the virus last year.

"The investigations into the spread of coronavirus in Ischgl in spring 2020 have been discontinued," the Innsbruck prosecutor's office said in a statement. "There is no charge. There is no evidence that anyone culpably did anything or failed to do anything to increase the risk of contagion."

Five people, including four local officials, had been under investigation in Innsbruck, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Ischgl.

Too slow to react

In September, a Vienna court began hearing civil lawsuits by plaintiffs from Austria and Germany, who accused authorities of negligence. The claims suggested authorities did not respond quickly enough to outbreaks in Ischgl and ski other resorts situated within the province of Tyrol.

More than 6,000 people from 45 countries were reported to have contracted the coronavirus in Ischgl and other Tyrolean resorts in March 2020.

The widow and son of a 72-year-old Austrian man were seeking some €100,000 ($117,000) in compensation. They were backed by Austria's Consumer Protection Association (VSV).

Peter Kolba, VSV chairman accused authorities of "multi-organizational failure" over the outbreak.

And Kolba said Wednesday that he had "the impression" there had been "a cover up" following the prosecutors' decision not to proceed.

jsi/aw (AFP, dpa)