For the first time after weeks of massive criticism, Ischgl’s mayor Werner Kurz is speaking. He rejects the accusation that Ischgl was the “corona hotspot” for spreading the virus in half of Europe.
In Ischgl, the accusation of having spread the virus in half of Europe as a “corona hotspot” is no longer to be ignored. It was “to the best of our knowledge and belief” and acted according to the guidelines of the authorities, said Mayor Werner Kurz in an interview with APA and ORF. There are therefore no grievances to deal with, but the “processes will be analyzed”.
“All specifications implemented immediately”
“We have dealt with everything to the best of our knowledge and belief and have immediately implemented all the requirements and regulations of the authorities,” the mayor said. “The right decisions were always made and implemented at the respective time and based on the respective level of knowledge”.
A municipality also had no “room for maneuver” in terms of competence law, Kurz said when asked whether it should not have been possible to close all après-ski bars earlier or to stop all ski operations. The “superior authority” is responsible for this, according to the local director, who also protected the higher levels – i.e. the state and the federal government.
“This charge is absurd”
When replied to the question of who was responsible for any or already acknowledged errors, Kurz replied: “This accusation is absurd”. They now have a different level of knowledge than at the beginning of March – this also applies to authorities and politicians. These would also have decided exclusively on the basis of expert opinions.
No time delays
“When all après-ski bars were closed on March 10, Italy was only classified as a risk area,” the mayor saw no obvious shortfalls. At that time, “many football stadiums were filled with tens of thousands of people” in Europe. “The authorities reacted very quickly to the current level of knowledge,” emphasized the Mayor of Ischgl.
Before 5 March – at the time when the Tyrolean authorities had learned that 15 Icelandic guests in their home country had tested positive for the virus after a stay in Ischgl – there was no suspicion of corona at all in the village. The first positive case came to him on March 7th with the much-quoted bartender in the “Kitzloch”. Previously, according to an order from the Landeck district administration, all the hotels in which the Icelanders lived had been informed and the owners had been asked to report suspected cases immediately.
And patients who went to the doctor with flu-like symptoms were cut back. Even in the period from March 5 to March 13, when the Paznaun valley was quarantined, Kurz saw no omissions, although: “In retrospect, you may always be wiser”.
In short: “Analyze processes and learn for the future”
In any case, one would “analyze the processes” – and “see if and what could have been done correctly”: “We want to learn for the future. We learn every day – worldwide”. However, there was a short objection to the fact that Ischgl was portrayed as the corona epicenter that infected half of Europe: “The virus did not originate from us and was not produced in Ischgl”.
The mayor vehemently denied the allegation that, after the quarantine was announced, official bodies asked tourists and employees – according to information from the tourism association – to leave Ischgl quickly and were put on the street. “Nobody was asked by the municipality, the tourist board or the cable cars to leave the valley”. This only affected “individual companies”. “But I have to protect them. I think they acted for the benefit of their guests in this precarious situation.” These companies wanted to ensure that the guests could still come home. In any case, the whole thing was “very unfortunate” and “a bit chaotic” – which was understandable in this situation. Finally, 8,000 to 10,000 guests suddenly wanted to leave the valley.
Ischgl population the most important thing
Kurz did not want to assess that the consumer protection association has since brought a statement of facts to the public prosecutor’s office, that a class action lawsuit and criminal investigations are also threatening him. They work “cooperatively” with the investigating authorities and are very interested in “everything being clarified”. He did not consider personal consequences: “It’s not about minds, but about health issues”. It was the most important thing for him and the people of Ischgl to strive to “defeat and fight the virus”.
“Profile” report: “Not understandable”
The mayor called a report by the news magazine “Profil” that according to the health agency AGES 57 percent of all Austrian corona cases evaluated so far are directly or indirectly attributable to Ischgl “not understandable”. The report was also “not knowingly” to him. He believed the AGES, but it had finally produced a “fake report”, Kurz made reference to a recent Ischgl-Corona case that had to be corrected in the beginning of February.
Mayor: “It hurts”
“I’ve been very hit and it hurts when you see all the reports about Ischgl,” said the local manager. Kurz did not want to affirm that a change of image and a move away from mass tourism was necessary, but: “It will probably be different. But let’s see how it develops”. The mayor continued to locate loyal regulars in the future: “Good feedback” is already being received from many guests. These would assure that they would come back to Ischgl.