- A ski resort in Austria known as “Ibiza of the Alps” has pledged to cut down on its famous party culture after becoming a major source of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak.
- The village of Ischgl was closed on March 13, after thousands of holiday makers partied at bars and hotels while the virus spread. The lockdown ended on Thursday.
- As of Friday, 800 infections in Austria have been traced there, with 1,200 more in Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and the UK.
- “More quality and less party tourism, prioritizing skiers and fewer day-trippers on buses who only come to party,” Mayor Werner Kurz said.
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A glitzy ski resort in Austria, known as “Ibiza of the Alps” for its rowdy après-ski culture, has pledged to clamp down on partygoers after 2,000 coronavirus cases in seven European countries were traced back there.
Ischgl was placed on lockdown on March 13, but for the preceding month bars, hotels, and clubs, as well as ski slopes and ski lifts, remained open to thousands of holidaymakers while the virus spread.
The village is known for hosting a number of après-ski featuring drinking games like beer pong, large outdoor gatherings, and music concerts.
“Almost every single day winter is celebrated big in Ischgl. During the day, on the slopes and in the ski huts of the resort and, at night, in the many bars and clubs at the town centre,” the resort website states.
However, that also made it a breeding ground for the coronavirus.
As of Friday, at least 800 infections in Austria have been traced to the town, with as many as 1,200 more in Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and the UK.
The village — which welcomes 500,000 visitors every season — has been criticized for its lack of precautions against the coronavirus, and officials slammed for their apparent contempt for the safety of their guests.
The resort closed on March 13 but foreign tourists were permitted to travel home, some of whom transporting the virus.
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Ischgl ended its lockdown this Thursday, and the town’s mayor promised to leave the partying days behind.
“We will question developments of the past years and, where necessary, make corrections,” Werner Kurz said, according to Reuters.
“That means more quality and less party tourism, prioritizing skiers and fewer day-trippers on buses who only come to party.”
“We are also thinking with all businesses about what an upmarket après-ski culture can look like.”
Ischgl, a favorite of Europe’s superrich, is home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and brings in $12,000 annually per hotel bed. Here’s what it’s like.
Local authorities now face legal action over accusations they dragged their feet in responding to the outbreak.
The Austrian Consumer Protection Association, backed by 5,000 tourists — most of whom German — accused health authorities in Tyrol region, in which Ischgl lies, of “negligent” behavior.
The resort is also under investigation in connection with allegations of covering up a suspected infection as early as February.
Here’s a timeline of what happened in Ischgl:
- February 8: First person in — an Austrian waitress ast Kitzloch bar — displays symptoms of the coronavirus.
- March 4: Iceland warns Austria that a group of its tourists tested positive after returning from Ischgl.
- March 5: Iceland declares Ischgl a risk area, as it did with China, Iran, and South Korea at the time.
- March 7: A barman at Kitzloch becomes the first person in Ischgl to test positive. Fifteen of his friends also test positive.
- March 9: Kitzloch bar closes.
- March: All après-ski bars close.
- March 13: Resort closes, but foreign tourists are allowed to return home, some taking the virus with them.
- March 18: Tyrol province issues a quarantine order for all 279 municipalities, including Ischgl.
- March 20: Iceland says 20 people connected to Ischgl tested positive.
- March 24: Austrian government launches investigation into conduct in Ischgl.