A class action lawsuit has been filed against Austria and its federal state of Tyrol in connection with a mass coronavirus outbreak in the ski resort of Ischgl in March, and its subsequent spread to European countries and beyond. 

The Austrian Consumer Protection Association (VSV) has submitted a first description of the facts to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Vienna for its investigation, a statement on the VSV website says. 

More than 1,000 people say they are joining the lawsuit, according to multiple reports. CNN has asked the cabinet of the Austrian chancellery for comment.

The class action aims to prove the authorities in Austria and Tyrol state did not do enough to shield visitors from the coronavirus prior to March 13 — by not closing the resort or warning skiers the virus was circulating.

In a statement to CNN, Tyrol state said people are “free to bring actions to court in a constitutional state” and it “has the greatest possible interest in re-evaluating all developments over the past few months.”

However, the statement continues, the pandemic put “many countries and regions around the world … in an exceptional situation unimaginable just a few months ago,” adding that it is working closely “with the judiciary” and an expert commission tasked with looking into Ischgl’s coronavirus crisis management.

The class action will also aim to prove that the sudden quarantine order issued for Ischgl and surrounding areas on March 13 allowed the virus to spread across Europe.

The VSV report says: “If you were at the ski resorts of Ischgl, Paznauntal, St. Anton am Arlberg, Sölden or Zillertal on 5 March 2020 or later, and shortly afterwards were diagnosed with the coronavirus, then you may be entitled to claim damages against the Tyrolean authorities and also against the Republic of Austria, provided we can produce evidence for negligence through relevant reports or in criminal proceedings.”

Ischgl and its neighboring villages draw around 500,000 visitors each winter, with high-profile celebrities and politicians among them in previous years.

Source : CNN


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