Ischgl COVID victims could get payout after Austrian court ruling

A court in Austria ruled Monday that a German tourist could be entitled to compensation after catching COVID-19 in the ski town of Ischgl in March 2020.

The Vienna Higher Regional Court overturned an earlier decision by a lower court to dismiss the German’s complaint. He had blamed Austrian authorities for mismanagement of coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, and claimed damages for pain and suffering, medical costs, and loss of earnings.

Ischgl, where a lively après-ski scene draws millions of visitors every year, was an early European COVID-19 hotspot, incubating the virus and helping spread it around the Continent as people headed for home in chaotic circumstances. As the pandemic blew up, health authorities across Scandinavia traced hundreds of cases to Ischgl. 

In its ruling, the higher court said that Austrian authorities were liable for “illegal and culpable information” as they stated on March 5, 2020 that two Icelandic tourists had been infected with COVID-19 while on their way home — while, in reality, they knew people were displaying symptoms of the virus in the ski resort. The court said the state had not provided “correct and complete” information about the impending dangers.

Numerous compensation payouts could now be in the pipeline. According to a court spokesperson there have been at least 25 similar lawsuits, that were dismissed by the lower court. Monday’s ruling could have an effect on all of these cases, if they are based on the same official statement.

The Higher Regional Court referred the case back to the lower court, while also allowing for an appeal to Austria’s Supreme Court.